Hamas rejects UN proposal on five-year Gaza ceasefire

Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu MarzoukSenior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk

Hamas, the Islamist group which controls the Gaza Strip, has rejected a proposal by the United Nations to agree a five-year truce in the Gaza Strip in return for a relaxation of Israeli restrictions.

A senior Hamas official appeared to confirm yesterday that the terror group had rejected a proposal by the United Nations (UN) to agree a five-year truce in the Gaza Strip in return for a relaxation of Israeli restrictions.

It was first reported at the start of this week that

The proposal has been made by the UN, whose outgoing representative in Gaza, Robert Serry commented, “I have received indications that they [Hamas] are willing to consider” what he described as “a multiyear freeze to military activities above and below ground … provided the other parties respond in further opening crossings to enable Gaza’s full and accelerated recovery and reconstruction.”

But Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied that such an idea had been discussed.

Israel daily Haaretz reported hat senior Hamas official Musa Abu Marzouk confirmed via social media, that the proposed agreement for a five-year truce also involved the construction of an airport and seaport in the Gaza Strip, demands which Hamas had issued during Operation Protective Edge last summer.

However, Marzouk said that Hamas had rejected the proposal, commenting, “We’re paying a steep price for our stance by the continued blockade and economic pressure over the Strip, but we reject any idea that would lead to the separation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.”

During the past several weeks, Israel has announced a range of measures to ease movement in and out of the Gaza Strip and improve the conditions which exist there.

The Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), the Israeli body responsible for coordinating movement at the Gaza border crossings announced last week that Israel will double the amount of water it supplies to Gaza after a coastal aquifer had become ineffective.

Last month, it increased the number of entry and exit permits to Gaza merchants and it has also facilitated the export of significant Gaza produce to the West Bank, an important market for the Gaza economy.

COGAT also ensured the import of 62,000 tons of construction supplies since August.

According to the Bank of Israel, the number of Palestinians working in Israel on both sides of the pre-1967 border had doubled in 2014. In total, 92,000 Palestinians work for Israelis, earning on average 65 per cent more than those working in Palestinian territories. The Bank of Israel attributed the spike in part to increased number of Israeli permits granted.

EU diplomats in Jerusalem recently lauded Israel’s efforts to help reconstruction of the Gaza Strip while protesting to the Palestinian Authority over its failure to aid the process.

An unnamed European diplomat was quoted as saying, “The Israelis are removing hurdles and assisting reconstruction. At the same time, reconstruction is still stuck because of the internal fights on the Palestinian side, Egyptian behaviour and failure to deliver funds pledged by the Arab states.”