Emerging Israel-Hamas Deal Reportedly Includes Partial Lifting of Seige, End of Violence

An emerging agreement between Israel and Hamas aimed at easing violence on the Gaza border will last until the end of 2018, the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported on Saturday. 

The paper published a draft agreement said to be an Israel-Hamas deal that will limit protest activities near the border and restrict violence. 

According to clauses in the draft agreement, Egypt will pressure Israel to lift 70 percent of the blockade on Gaza and expand the fishing zone to 14 nautical miles; 5,000 Gazan workers under 40 will be allowed to enter Israel for employment; and Egypt will open the Rafah border crossing.

>> Israel decides against toppling Hamas in Gaza, seeks to weaken it ■ Israel vs. Gaza: The pendulum swings back toward renewed conflict | Analysis ■ Why Netanyahu is willing to pay a political price for keeping Gaza talks alive | Analysis

The Rafah crossing was closed by Egypt after Hamas’ takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007, althought it has been temporarily opened for Ramadan over the past years. 

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Israel will try to leave the crossing with Gaza open and the United Nations will advance projects in the Strip that will create tens of thousands of jobs, the deal said.

Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority would pay 80 percent of the salaries of Hamas civil servants, and would not object to Qatar funding those salaries for at least six months, according to the deal.

On Wednesday, Israel reportedly agreed to allow Qatar to transfer funds to pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants after Israel received guarantees that the money transferred will be used only for the stated purpose.

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar in Gaza City, October 18, 2017.Ali Jadallah / Anadolu Agency

At a later stage, according to deal, Egypt would work to advance the prisoners’ exchange deal between Hamas and Israel.

Neither Hamas nor Israel has verified these details. At the same time, Egypt is said to be working toward an internal Palestinian reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, although no breakthrough has been reported.

Friday’s protests were significantly calmer than those held in previous weeks, Palestinian reports said. 

Also on Friday, an Israeli official said the option of reaching a settlement agreement in Gaza must be exhausted, adding that Israel is succeeding in averting a humanitarian crisis so far via transfer of Qatari fuel and salaries to Hamas officials. The official also stressed Israel must ensure the funds do not reach terrorist factors within the organization.

On Thursday, a senior Hamas official told Haaretz the Palestinian factions in the Strip decided to put an end to the violent protests along the border with Israel, as well as stop the launching of airborne firebombs.