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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rumored Hamas-Israel deal: Fatah to guard Gaza; Barak opposed.

This is yet another Israel-Hamas deal rumor. If it is true, it could be a solution, provided that there are adequate safeguards to prevent importation of arms. 
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is rumored to be opposed to the deal, supposedly because of personal opposition to Mahmoud Abbas. Barak has a few reasons to be unhappy with Abbas. Abbas was involved in the Munich massacres. Barak played a part in killing some of those who were more directly involved. In 2000, Abbas was among those who helped torpedo the Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement that Barak, then Prime Minister, was trying to negotiate. Abbas insisted on right of return, and denial of any Israeli rights in East Jerusalem, as well as full return to the borders of the 1948 armistice. Barak must be very unhappy that Abbas is now a peace partner, who will give a better deal to a different government. There are, however, good reasons to be suspicious of this deal, as the border arrangements might not ensure Israeli security, and the record of the Fatah in stopping terror attacks is abysmal.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 09:38 12/03/2008    
A deal being formulated between Israel, Egypt and Hamas involves deploying Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' troops at the crossings with the Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources told Haaretz Tuesday.
According to the sources, Israel and Hamas have agreed to the Egyptian proposal to deploy Palestinian Authority Presidential Guard members along the Karni, Sufa and Kerem Shalom crossings, where cargo is transferred between Israel and Gaza, as well as at the Erez crossing, a passageway for people and goods.
Guard members will be deployed also at the Rafah crossing, which connects Sinai, Egypt with the Strip.

Hamas forces will be positioned nearby and will essentially control the movement of Palestinian civilians in and out of Gaza.
This agreement is in keeping with the 2005 crossings agreement, between the U.S., Israel and the PA, which called for placing the crossings under forces loyal to Abbas.
The Palestinian sources said that Hamas leaders are due to meet with Egyptian mediators within the next two days. The Egyptians will convey Israel's views on the Egyptian proposal, and Hamas is to state whether it agrees to a temporary cease-fire.
The current round of violence ended after Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders met with Egyptian officials last week.
The PA also has agreed to the Egyptian proposal. It is expected to present any agreement as a success, because this would mean Hamas has failed to break the siege on Gaza. It has controlled the coastal strip since overthrowing Fatah there last June.
Meanwhile, Damascus-based Hamas leader Mohammed Nasser released the group's conditions for a cease-fire with Israel Tuesday. Nasser says Hamas is demanding Israel completely cease "all acts of aggression" in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
By this demand, Hamas is toughening its stance regarding the cease-fire in the works, and is posing a demand that Israel steadfastly has refused to accept so far. Israel rejects any deal that would bar it from arresting suspected militants in the West Bank.
Ayman Taha, a Hamas spokesman in the Strip, confirmed in a telephone conversation with Haaretz on Tuesday that the radical Islamic group is demanding Israel stop making arrests in the West Bank in exchange for a cease-fire deal.
Nasser also added that Hamas is ready for a temporary cease-fire with Israel, on the condition that it occurs simultaneously and applies to both sides.
Abbas said Monday during a meeting with Jordanian journalists that "a senior figure in the Israeli government is undermining the negotiations for internal reasons and because of personal hostility to me." He was in Jordan to meet with King Abdullah.
A Jordanian journalist who published the story noted that Abbas was referring to Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Abbas also said that any agreement on Palestinian refugees' right of return would be implemented over the course of at least a decade after the signing of a peace deal.

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