The ruling Hamas party in Gaza said on Wednesday it received an official invitation from Cairo for a new round of ceasefire talks after Israel responded yesterday to Egypt-mediated Hamas ceasefire offer.
Hamas’s spokesman in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, told IMEMC that his party’s position regarding potential ceasefire or ‘Tahdiya’ with Israel is clear; Hamas considers the Shalit case as a separate issue and should be sorted out within a prisoners swap deal.
‘ as usual, Israel this time repudiates from any commitments towards a genuine ceasefire and end of its hostilities and siege against the Gaza Strip. However, we have been in relentless contacts with the Egyptian brothers for reaching a ceasefire’.
A Hamas delegation is set to head for Cairo next week for the new talks as other factions will join the meetings as well.
Hamas declared it would not keep the Israeli soldier Gil’ad Shalit captured forever, but reiterated that his release should be swapped with hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, held in Israeli jails.
Mohammad Albaba (Abu Adnan), a political leader of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, who took part in last month’s Cairo meetings, echoed the same response during an interview with IMEMC on Wednesday.
‘ Shalit should be released within a prisoners swap deal and as for the arms smuggling from Egypt into Gaza, I believe that Egypt is a sovereign state and knows how to preserve security on its border lines’ Abu Adnan maintained.
On Tuesday, Israel informed Omar Sulieman, chief of Egyptian intelligence, two main demands for the Palestinian factions involving the ruling Hamas.
The demands are; releasing the Israeli soldier Shalit, Hamas, the Popular Resistance Committee and the Army of Islam, a group linked to Hamas, holds in Gaza after a cross border attack in June2006, and stopping arms smuggling from Egypt into Gaza on the Gaza-Egypt border lines in southern Gaza Strip.
Last month, representatives of 12 Palestinian resistance factions agreed in Cairo to an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire initiative, which states stopping homemade shells fire from Gaza in return for lifting an 11-month-old Israeli blockade of the Strip completely, for a period of six months, to be extended later on in the West Bank.
The Egyptian intelligence chief, Omar Sulieman, visited Israel this week, where he submitted to the Israeli side, the Hamas’s offer for the ceasefire.
Talks on a prisoners swap deal between Israel and the Palestinians, through Cairo, have been deadlocked for the past several months, given Israel’s insistence not to release detainees , who Israel says ‘ convicted of killing Israelis’.
To release Shalit, Hamas wants to see about 400 Palestinian prisoners out of 11.000 others- including those with long imprisonment sentences- freed, before Shalit is released.
Since June 2007, Israel has placing the coastal region under a strict closure of border crossings, limiting shipments of fuel and other essential items.
The Islamist resistance Hamas party took over the region in the same month amidst factional fighting with the secular Fatah party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who now holds a way in the West Bank.