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Israel and Hamas in ceasefire talks

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Israel is reported to be considering ceasefire proposals from Hamas mediated by Egypt and Qatar.

Israel’s Channel Ten News reported yesterday that Israel is prepared to drop two previous demands – the full demilitarisation of the Gaza Strip and political power in Gaza handed over to the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Instead, Israel is reported to be demanding the cessation of all missile fire and tunnel construction, a no go zone west of the Gaza border fence and the return of Israeli soldiers Hadar Goldin and Shaul Oron, as well as captives Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed.

In return, Israel will significantly ease restrictions at the border crossings into Gaza to allow more goods to enter, provided that the goods are not used by Hamas to build up its military capabilities. The Egyptians will also ease restrictions at the Rafah border crossing, which has remained largely closed since 2015 and only occasionally opening to provide economic or humanitarian support.

The media report suggests that the ceasefire agreement, if implemented, would result in Israeli recognition of two separate Palestinian entities: Hamas in Gaza and the PA in the West Bank. Arab sources told Channel Ten News that a ceasefire in Gaza would serve the interests of the moderate Arab countries, and that Egypt would be part of the supervisory mechanism to ensure conditions of the ceasefire were strictly observed. It remains unclear if PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas would support the ceasefire terms.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US special envoy Jared Kusnher discussed Gaza last week as part of discussions on the US’s overall plan to try and reignite the dormant peace process. Jason Greenblatt, the US special representative for international negotiations, travelled to Egypt and Qatar, to discuss the proposals.