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Is Israel really interested in a truce with Palestinians in Gaza?

Israeli soldiers seen roaming the West Bank as part of a manhunt to catch a Palestinian accused of killing an Israeli settler and wounding two others in two different shooting attacks in Ramallah, West Bank on March 17, 2019 [Issam Rimawi / Anadolu Agency]
Israeli soldiers seen roaming the West Bank on 17 March, 2019 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

On the 51st Friday of the Great March of Return protests, march spokesperson Daoud Shehab announced the failure of the indirect talks held between the Palestinian resistance factions and Israel to reach a truce in the Gaza Strip. This news shocked Gazans, who have been waiting for the fruits of these talks for a year.

The next day, MEMO asked senior Hamas member Khalil Al-Hayya about the issue and he said: “This is not true and the Egyptian mediation in this file is still in place.” However, he recognised that “there is a kind of Israeli procrastination.”

Al-Hayya said the talks, which have been taking as a result of the pressure placed by the Great March of Return, “had tangible impacts on the ground”.

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“Gaza residents have more than ten hours of electricity every day instead of four hours before the talks. The Israeli occupation allowed Qatar to pay a $100 monthly payment to thousands of poor families, crossings are opened on daily basis, trade with Egypt increased and the fishing zone expanded.”

Al-Hayya also said that the Israeli occupation had pledged to offer more in return for the suspension of the protests in the east of the Gaza Strip. He denied that Egypt’s mediation in the matter had come to an end and stressed that officials from Cairo are due in Gaza very soon to discuss the implementation of extra pledges.

However, the Palestinian academic and political analyst Dr Omar J’ara said that the Israeli occupation is not interested in reaching a truce with the Palestinian resistance.

Like any other Israeli official, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not want truce because he does not believe in peace with the Palestinians

he said.

“The Israeli official believes that this land belongs only to the Jewish people and the Palestinians do not have any right to live in it.” He referred to the recent remarks made by Netanyahu when he said: “The Arab citizens [in Israel] have 22 nation states around them and they do not need another.” Dr J’ara asked: “He addressed the Palestinians in Israel, what about the Palestinians who live in the occupied territories?” Netanyahu, like many other Israeli officials, has several times pledged that there would never be a state for the Palestinians, claiming if there was a state, it would be ruled by Hamas.

However, Dr J’ara denied Netanyahu’s claim, saying: “If he intended to make peace with the Palestinians, he could have done this a long time ago when Hamas was a very weak organisation and the rival Fatah and the Palestinian Authority were controlling everything in the Palestinian territories. Netanyahu has [Palestinian President] Mahmoud Abbas, who says he does not believe in anything except peace with the Israelis. He translated this into a very tangible measure when he conceded more than 78 per cent of the area of historical Palestinian in Oslo.”

Iconic handshake between PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli president Shimon Peres during the Oslo accords [File photo]

Iconic handshake between PLO leader Yasser Arafat and Israeli President Shimon Peres during the Oslo accords [File photo]

Senior Israeli writer and political analyst Akiva Eldar reported last week that one of the Egyptian proposals to reach a truce between Israel and Hamas was “near-total de-militarisation of Gaza in exchange for Israel and Egypt lifting their closures and initiating programmes to improve the situation in the enclave.” Surely, this is an Israeli proposal because the Egyptians are merely messengers between Israel and Hamas. This is a very clear proof that Israel is not interested in a truce because no one in the whole world would think for even one minute that Hamas would give up its weapons.

When asked when the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza, who have waiting for an end to the Israeli siege for 12 years, come to an end, Dr J’ara said: “This is the big question. If Gaza is a national issue, its residents must offer much sacrifices for the sake of their freedom and self-determination. But if Gaza is a livelihood issue, Hamas must lay down its arms and surrender its neck to the Israeli butchers.”

Meanwhile, Al-Hayya said: “We will continue putting pressure, through the popular resistance, on the Israeli occupation until it completely ends the siege imposed on Gaza.”

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Even if Egypt’s mediation efforts come to an end, he added, “There are other active mediators who will not stop.”

On Saturday a Hebrew newspaper quoted a senior Israeli official saying: “Gaza will never be reconstructed until the Israeli soldiers [captured by resistance forces in Gaza] are back and the siege will never be lifted until Hamas lays down its arms.”

Israel seeks no concessions on its part but wants the resistance to give up everything it has. This is further proof that it isn’t serious about a truce; Hamas will not lay down it’s arms until a Palestinian state is established, and any prisoners of war it has captured will only be released in a prisoner swap deal which sees Israel releasing Palestinians it has held for decades, often without charge or trial.

A Palestinian medic carries away an injured protestor during a weekly "Great March of Return" demonstration near the Israel-Gaza border, on March 22, 2019 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]

A Palestinian medic carries away an injured protestor during a weekly “Great March of Return” demonstration near the Israel-Gaza border, on March 22, 2019 [Mohammad Asad / Middle East Monitor]

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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