The head of Hamas’ political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, and the secretary-general of Islamic Jihad, Ziad al-Nakhaleh, arrived in Cairo on Monday in an attempt to advance a long-term truce with Israel.
Cairo has allowed Haniyeh to leave the Gaza Strip months after a travel ban revealed by Hamas and denied by the Egyptian authorities. Cairo also requested the presence of Nakhaleh in this week’s talks.
Hamas confirmed that Haniyeh would lead a large delegation to discuss with Egyptian officials important files besides bilateral relations. A statement by the Jihad movement said that Nakhaleh would hold crucial talks with Egyptian officials. Haniyeh also plans to head a delegation that will visit Russia, Qatar and Turkey.
Over the past two years, Cairo has been assuming a mediation role in two complex files: Palestinian internal reconciliation and a truce in the Gaza Strip. Haniyeh and Nakhaleh’s visit came amid Israeli leaks about progress in the truce talks that could lead to a long-term agreement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu implicitly acknowledged working on such an agreement, saying there would be no long-term settlement in the Gaza Strip “as long as rocket fire continues.”
The Israeli Haaretz newspaper reported that Hamas and Israel continue to discuss new arrangements, leading to a long-term truce rather than a temporary ceasefire. It pointed out that the establishment of an American field hospital near the Beit Hanoun crossing in the northern Gaza Strip under the supervision of a US institution, was one of these arrangements.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority slammed truce understandings between Hamas and Israel, saying they aimed to kill the “Palestinian state project.”
In an attempt to pressure Israel and the mediators, the National Authority of the Return Marches and Lifting the Siege announced the resumption of marches on the Gaza border next Friday after a three-week suspension.
At the end of its regular meeting on Monday, the National Authority called for a broad participation on Friday.