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Israel: Applying Egypt-Proposed Understandings Only Way to Avert Gaza Escalation

Israel: Applying Egypt-Proposed Understandings Only Way to Avert Gaza Escalation

Friday, 22 March, 2019 - 06:45
A demonstrator holds a Palestinian flag as he shouts during clashes with Israeli troops, near the border with Israel in the southern Gaza Strip March 2, 2018. (Reuters)
Tel Aviv – Asharq Al-Awsat
The only way to avert an escalation in security in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip is to implement partial Egypt-proposed understandings, said Israeli media.

The Israel Hayom daily reported Thursday that Egypt proposed a settlement plan between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza, starting with Hamas.

A new Egyptian proposal would see Gaza demilitarized in return for Israel lifting the blockade currently in place and a series of international projects to improve the situation in the coastal enclave, Egyptian security forces and senior Palestinian officials in Gaza and Ramallah report.

According to the plan, the Palestinian organizations, under the leadership of either Hamas or an umbrella political group representing all the organizations in Gaza, would remain in charge of internal affairs in the Gaza Strip through the use of the security mechanisms already in place in there, said the Israeli daily.

The plan would allow some light weaponry to remain in Gaza to be used mostly for domestic security purposes. The number of those weapons would be reduced and strictly monitored.

“Once these steps were implemented, Israel would lift their blockade on Gaza and introduce large-scale infrastructure, employment, economic, health and education projects. Project funding would come from the UN, the EU, and Arab states, in particular Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The proposed plan would also see the opening of a maritime channel to a port in Gaza, which in its first stages would allow Gaza to directly import and export goods,” it continued.

According to Egyptian security officials, as well as senior Palestinian officials in Gaza and Ramallah, Jerusalem and Cairo have come to realize that Hamas “is not going anywhere”. They say that Egypt and Israel have also come to terms with the fact that the Palestinian Authority will be hard-pressed to return to power in Gaza, either under a Palestinian unity agreement or as a result of the collapse of the Hamas regime in light of the dire humanitarian situation and the continued military conflict with Israel, said Israel Hayom.

“The prevailing assessment in Israel and in Egypt is that the proposal could be implemented in three to five years and that the main obstacle would be Hamas' and the other armed Palestinian factions' opposition to demilitarization,” it added.

According to senior officials in Ramallah, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Liberation Organization leadership would agree to the demilitarization of Hamas and the other factions in Gaza on the condition the PA was put in control of the enclave and tasked with leading the project.

The US security echelon has received drafts of the plan compiled by Israeli and Egyptian teams.

A senior Egyptian security official said: “We are now waiting for the new government that will be elected in Israel in order to speed up the process, with the goal following the elections in Israel being to involve other influential Arab states.”

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