As Hamas supposedly accepts agreement – pressure is on both Israel and Palestinian factions to make deal soon

February 9, 2009

Cairo (ChattahBox) — With less than 48 hours before parliamentary elections in Israel, the drive to reach a cease-fire agreement between Hamas and Israel following their 22-day war is taking on new urgency.

If a deal isn’t in place when Israelis go to the polls Tuesday, the ruling Kadima Party already third in the polls, could take a significant hit. The hawkish Likud party, headed by Benjamin Netanyahu, a right-wing politician who was prime minister from 1996 to 1999 is right now in first place, as many Israelis blame the “peaceniks” for not dealing with Hamas rockets on southern Israel much sooner.

Hamas, for its part, faces the prospect of having to deal with an Israeli government that could take an even harder line on Gaza if the Likud party comes to power.

An Islamic Hamas movement official said on Monday the movement accepts a one-and-a-half-year truce agreement with Israel but there seem to be some disputes remaining.

Mohamed Nazal, a Damascus-based Hamas leader told a Hamas news website on Monday “the truce talks are facing some difficulties, mainly the term of the truce.”

“Israel doesn’t want a truce limited with a certain period of time, while we have accepted a one-and-a-half-year truce. The other problem we face is related to ending the siege and opening the crossings,” said Nazal.

A Hamas movement delegation, headed by senior leader Mahmoud al-Zahar is expected to arrive later on Monday in Cairo from Damascus to hand over the movement’s final response to Egyptian officials.

Egypt is not only mediating a truce agreement between Hamas Israel but also between the Palestinian factions at the same time.

Nazal said that Egypt doesn’t want, in the first stage of the agreement, to include reopening Rafah border crossing, adding that “Egypt wants to open the crossing in the frame of a deal between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.”

“This means that there are no guarantees to reopen Rafah border crossing,” said Nazal, adding that “concerning the crossings with Israel, Israel said it would partially reopen the crossings and allow 80 percent of materials into Gaza.”


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