Gaza Truce Awaits Hamas Response

The Palestinian resistance group Hamas is still to give a final response to Egypt regarding a proposed year-and-a-half truce that stipulates opening Gaza’s crossings for 80 percent of goods.

"The team will return here on Saturday to inform Egyptian officials on the final stance on the issues," a well-placed Egyptian official told the state-run MENA news agency on Thursday, February 5.

Talks between Egyptian intelligence officials and a Hamas delegation ended on Wednesday, February 4, without a deal.

The delegation left to Damascus to consult with the Syria-based Hamas political leadership on the details of the proposed truce.

Hamas representative Salah al-Bardawil told the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram that a draft deal talks about a year-and-a-half truce and the opening of Gaza’s crossings for 80 percent of goods.

It is not yet clear what would be the criteria for determining the types of goods that will be allowed into Gaza.

Bardawil said the draft indicates that Rafah border crossing, Gaza’s only window to the outside world, would be closed from time to time.

He added that Israel rejected a proposal to station international observers on the Rafah border.

Hamas and Israel have held separate talks with Egyptian mediators on terms for a long-term truce after three weeks of Israeli attacks that killed more than 1400 Palestinian and left Gaza infrastructure in tatters.

Hamas says it is ready for a long-term truce in return for lifting the crippling Israeli siege on Gaza.

Hamas wants Rafah opened completely, with Turkish troops monitoring its operation, in accordance with a plan drafted by the US three years ago.

Israel has sealed off the impoverished coastal enclave since Hamas took power there in June 2007.

Stronger Hamas

The ceasefire draft comes as a new poll found that last month’s deadly Israeli offensive in Gaza has boosted Hamas’s popularity in Gaza and the West Bank.

The Jerusalem Media and Communications Center poll found that some 27.7 percent of the 1,198 respondents said they trusted Hamas, compared with 26 percent for West-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah.

In Gaza, the survey showed that Hamas enjoys the support of 28 percent against 33.6 percent for Abbas’s Fatah.

In the occupied West Bank, the poll gave Hamas 29 percent support against 24.5 percent for its rival.

The poll found that Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniya, who Abbas dismissed after Hamas’s takeover of Gaza, is the most trusted Palestinian politician with 21.1 percent support, far ahead of the incumbent president with 13.4 percent.

When asked who won the war in Gaza, 53.3 percent of people in the West Bank said Hamas, compared with 35.2 percent in Gaza.

Israel killed more than 1,400 people and wounded 5,450 in 22 days of land, air and sea attacks in Gaza, home to 1.6 million Palestinians.

The offensive also wrecked havoc on Gaza’s infrastructures, with thousands of homes, government buildings, schools and mosques destroyed.

The poll found that Hamas will get 28.6 percent of the vote against 27.9 percent for rival Fatah if the elections were held today.

Hamas scored an upset victory in January 2006 parliamentary elections, defying opinion poll predictions which had seriously underestimated the group.

(IslamOnline.net and Agencies)

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