Palestinian delegation in Cairo determined to uphold ceasefire conditions
Fatah leader Azzam al-Ahmad - REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah
By AMIRA EL-FEKKI

CAIRO: A delegation from Palestine combining different political factions arrived to Cairo on Saturday evening to present to Egypt a ceasefire plan, Youm7 reported.

Palestinian parties seem to be able to reach an agreement for the first time since the beginning of Israel’s war on Gaza, as a delegation of 12 people formed by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and headed by Azzam Al-Ahmed along with representatives of all parties are to present its ceasefire proposal conditions in Cairo.

“This union, between the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Fatah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine, is an essential step to end the Israeli aggression towards the Palestinian people,” Hussein Abu Shanab, member of the PLO’s legislative wing the Palestinian National Council (PNC), said in a statement to ONTV Live channel Saturday.

At least 12 Palestinian representatives are part of the delegation to Cairo, according to Palestinian journalist Youssef Ahmed, who told ONTV Live Friday that the mission includes Izzat al-Risheq, member of Hamas’ political bureau, Bassam al-Salhi, secretary-general of the Palestinian People’s Party, Jameel Shehadeh, secretary-general of the Palestinian Arab Front (PAF), and Maher al-Taher member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Condemning the “international unjustifiable silence” regarding the Palestinian cause and confirming the alliances of the various Palestinian political forces on the draft proposal for a ceasefire, which a united Palestinian delegation arrived to discuss in Cairo Saturday, Abu Shanab stated that it was necessary for the Palestinians to reach an agreement which would “put Gaza on the right path,” recalling Palestine’s achievement in November 2012 in acquiring the status of a UN non-member observer.

The parties agreed to the conditions, most of which were demanded by Hamas in its mid-July ten-year-ceasefire offer, after rejecting Egypt’s ceasefire initiative. Lifting the Israeli siege off of Gaza remains on top of the list of demands, which consists of ten requests.

Journalist Youssef Ahmed briefed the demands in statements to ONTV Live channel Friday, saying they included the opening of all border crossings, Israeli aircraft to remain out of Gaza airspace, Israel to refrain from any interference with Palestinian authorities concerning national affairs.

“All the demands are for humanitarian purposes,” Ahmed stated. “Perhaps the only condition that Israel could object is the withdrawal of its air forces from Gaza, because they have been monitoring the strip by the minute,” Ahmed added.

The rest of the conditions request Gaza fishing zone to be extended to 12 nautical miles, residents to be allowed to pray in the Aqsa mosque, a seaport to be opened under international supervision and the re-establishment of Gaza.

“Palestinians demand freedom and independence, in addition to their basic needs in life and their right to move from one location to another,” Abu Shanab told ONTV Live.

Jameel Muzher, leading member of the PFLP’s political bureau and head of the Popular Front Branch in Gaza, confirmed that Taher will be representing the front and advocating the end of Israel’s blockade on Gaza and liberation of border crossings.

“The front upholds the importance of Egypt’s presence in the negotiations and maintains that a ceasefire will not be possible without Egypt,” Muzher told The Cairo Post Saturday.

Meanwhile, Israeli troops began withdrawing from Gaza Strip on Saturday, Sky News reported based on news from two Israeli TV stations, adding that this “comes after an army spokesman told news agency AFP that Israel was “quite close to completing” the destruction of tunnels it claims were used by Hamas to infiltrate the country.”

The Jerusalem Post reported Saturday that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) has destroyed “Hamas’s flagship terrorism project; its network of cross-border tunnels that snuck under the border into Israel.”

Israel declared it will not send a delegation to Egypt, after accusing Hamas of “misleading international mediators,” Reuters reported Saturday. On Friday, a 72-hour truce was broken during its early hours, as both sides exchanged accusations, and the death toll reached 70 Palestinians in shelling on Rafah city.

Through a one-side disengagement, which does not oblige any of the two sides in conflict to any ceasefire commitment, Muzher commented by saying that Israel hopes to intercept truce efforts, and destroy the chances for the Palestinian resistance for any achievements.

“I believe the resistance will ignore Israel’s move and will not feel compelled by it,” Muzher told The Cairo Post, in order to achieve the demands, on top of which comes a lift of the Gaza blockade, and also include the end to attacks on Palestine’s infrastructure, and find a solution to the issue of tunnels.

The new delegation combined several Palestinian factions determined to face the challenges of US pressure on Gaza and stop the interference of certain regional countries aligned with the US such as Qatar and Turkey, Muzher said.

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