By YASSER OKBI/ MAARIV HASHAVUA
Is a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas in the offing?
Khaled Mashaal, the head of the Palestinian Islamist movement’s political bureau, confirmed on Friday that the two sides are engaged in indirect discussions on a possible cease-fire in the South.
The Hamas official noted that “the organization is open to all efforts [to bring about a cease-fire], but this won’t be done on account of the Palestinian national interest.”
Earlier this week, a flurry of reports that Israel and Hamas were on the verge of signing a long-term deal led to official denials from Jerusalem and to deep concern among Fatah officials in the West Bank.
PA officials warned that any such agreement would pave the way for the establishment of a separate Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip.
The warning came amid reports that Mashaal and Blair have reached understandings regarding a proposed truce. Unconfirmed reports claimed that Hamas was ready to strike a deal with Israel in return for the creation of a sea passage between Cyprus and the Gaza Strip.
Yasin Aktay, an adviser to Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, was quoted in a Gaza-based newspaper as saying that a long-term Hamas-Israel deal was in the offing, as was reconciliation between Israel and Turkey over the MV Mavi Marmara incident.
Mashaal held talks in Turkey last week.
The Prime Minister’s Office reversed a previous policy of not responding to the stories, instead issuing a denial of the reports.
“Israel formally clarifies that there are no meetings with Hamas,” the Prime Minister’s Office said on Monday evening. “Neither directly, through third countries, nor through mediators.”
Herb Keinon and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.
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