CAIRO: Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad will resume talks with officials this week in Egypt to reach a ceasefire agreement with Israel, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad told reporters Saturday.
The Islamic Jihad official Khaled Al-Batsh sounded a warning to rival factions Hamas and Fatah to patch their disagreements, telling them “any side that insists on not starting the dialogue brings harm against the Palestinian people, their cause and rights.
Al-Batsh indicated a willingness to resume talks on a ceasefire that Egypt is trying to broker between Palestinian groups and Israel, but stated that “the Islamic Jihad can accept it only when the occupation stops its crimes and is ready to give the Palestinians their rights.
Both Islamic Jihad and Hamas had met with officials from the office of Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman last Thursday in Al-Arish to discuss the possibility of a ceasefire as well as the situation on the Egypt-Gaza border in light of the Israeli offensive on Gaza.
In Thursday’s meeting, Egypt attempted to persuade Hamas to halt rocket attacks into Southern Israel to protect the population of Gaza.
Al-Batsh said that upcoming talks would focus on lifting the siege on Gaza and determining whether to reopen the Rafah border crossing and other crossings into the Gaza strip.
Yet while, paradoxically, Islamic Jihad seems willing to pursue ceasefire negotiations Hamas have denied that these talks are even taking place.
Asked about reports of ceasefire negotiations arbitrated by Egypt, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told reporters in Gaza last Wednesday, “We don t have information about these reports and what we have is the opposite.
“Our stance is clear; it is the Israeli aggression that should stop first because the rockets are a reaction to the Israeli occupation’s crimes against the people, he added.
On Sunday Egypt allowed convoys carrying humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza strip, but through the Karam Abu-Salem crossing, which is controlled by Israel.
The convoys were allowed through that particular crossing so that Israel could ascertain for itself that no weapons were being smuggled into the strip.
Egypt had declared on Saturday that it had discovered and destroyed six underground tunnels linking the border town of Rafah with Gaza and used to smuggle weapons and contraband.
Israel’s Gaza offensive last week led to the deaths of 130 people over eight days, many of them civilians, including women and children. Some of the wounded were allowed to seek treatment in Egypt after being transported in Egyptian ambulances through the Rafah border crossing, 14 km north of the Karam Abu-Salem crossing.
Late last Thursday a Palestinian gunned down eight students of a Jewish religious school in Jerusalem, seemingly in retaliation for the Israeli offensive on Gaza.