RAMALLAH: Confusion surrounds the next phase of the negotiations about the Gaza Strip, with sources casting doubt about whether the Palestinians have been invited or whether the Israelis will even attend.
According to a report on Israel’s Channel 10 report, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has no intention of resuming the indirect ceasefire talks with Hamas, saying that there are no preparations being made for the Cairo talks.
Palestinian officials have warned however that Israel risks nullifying the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip if its government does not send an official representative to the Cairo negotiations scheduled to commence this week, according to Al Sharq Al Awsat.
The Saudi-owned daily reported that talks will conclude within a month and will produce an agreement on a range of issues, including the possible construction of a seaport and an airport in the Gaza Strip as well as resolving the issue of the bodies of Israeli troops killed during the Israeli assault on Gaza.
The paper did not mention any confirmed sources confirming that Israeli negotiators will take part in Cairo talks.
Mousa Abu Marzouq, a Hamas political bureau official, wrote on his Facebook page that no date has been established for the resumption of the ceasefire talks with Israel. He stressed that Hamas has been waiting for an official invitation from Cairo.
Israeli Channel 10 said in its report that Netanyahu told his associates in closed meetings that, “Israel’s demand for demilitarisation of the Gaza Strip does not appear to be attainable in either the short term or the long term, and in light of these circumstances, it is difficult to envision any serious discussions regarding Hamas’s demands for seaport and airport in the Gaza Strip.”
Shouting at the Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon during a cabinet meeting, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni was quoted by the Israeli daily Haaretz as saying, “Making do with ending the fighting and not doing anything is a mistake. If that is what you think should be, please go to every single resident of the area near the Gaza border and tell them that what was shall be and that they should start preparing for the next round.”
Dr Abdul Sattar Qasem, who heads the Political Science Department at Al Najah National University in Nablus, said that the Palestinians do not have the necessary deterrence force to compel Israel to return to the Cairo talks. “Israel can easily escape the resumption of the ceasefire talks and the Palestinians have already returned to square one with no pressure on Israel at all,” he told Gulf News.
Qassem said that the Palestinian political performance in the Cairo ceasefire talks was a total failure and did not match with their military performance on the battlefield. “The Palestinians should have sent a team of experts to the ceasefire talks not a team of the various Palestinian factions,” he said.
“The Palestinian public has offered sacrifices and the Palestinian politicians have offered concessions,” he added.
Commenting on the possibility of Hamas resuming rocket fire into Israel, Qasem said that the Palestinian factions in Gaza have the military capabilities to respond to an Israeli assault but are not capable of serving as an offensive and deterrent force. “We should be realistic when it comes to the military capabilities of the Palestinian resistance forces,” he argued, adding that Israel could negotiate the fate of the dead bodies of its soldiers in line with the Palestinian prisoners’ framework but never in the framework of the ceasefire or peace negotiations.