Senior Hamas Official Denies Talks with Israel

Hamas has denied allegations by other Palestinian factions – notably the rival movement Fatah – that it is seeking to establish a separate state in Gaza in return for a long-term truce with Israel, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported Sunday.

In a statement posted late Saturday on his Facebook page, Moussa Abu Marzouk, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, said his group had no intention of “accepting the separation of the Gaza Strip from the West Bank in return for concessions [from Israel].”

“We have repeated it many times,” he added. “Any consolidation of the truce [with Israel] that we, along with other Palestinian factions, signed in Cairo during last year’s war on Gaza must come in return for opening Gaza’s borders; the unimpeded delivery of building materials into Gaza; lifting the [Israeli-Egyptian] siege on Gaza; allowing Gaza’s airport to operate; and allowing construction of a Gaza seaport.”

Several reports have surfaced in recent weeks that Israel and Hamas have been working on a long-term arrangement through international mediators, specifically the UN, since the end of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza last summer.

Hamas has publicly denied those reports and last month, it was reported that Israel had sent a message to the Palestinian Authority (PA) explaining that it has not conducted any negotiations with Hamas regarding a long-term ceasefire.

To placate PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian sources told Walla! News, Israel has quietly made it clear that no such talks have ever taken place and that it has no intention on reaching a ceasefire at this time.

The issue of Israel’s alleged talks with Hamas has added fuel to the ongoing war of words between longtime rivals Hamas and Fatah. The tensions between the sides continue despite a unity agreement signed in April 2014 which sought to end seven years of bad blood.

The unity government between Hamas and Fatah collapsed in June when Abbas, who heads Fatah, decided to dissolve it amid a deepening rift between the sides.

In his Saturday statement, Abu Marzouk denied Hamas was in talks with Israel regarding proposals for a long-term truce, adding, according to Anadolu, “We told Tony Blair – along with others who knocked on our door – that we would not engage in a continuation of the [1993] Oslo Agreement.”

Regarding a truce initiative reportedly tabled by Blair, Abu Marzouk declared, “Everyone should know we will not accept a continuation of Oslo; what we rejected before for others, we won’t accept for ourselves.”

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/200381

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