Mediation talks by Egyptian authorities and a delegation of Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials held in Cairo last week failed to secure a long-term ceasefire deal between Palestinian factions and Israel, according to Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials, with both sides still far apart on the number of years for a proposed truce.
According to a source close to the meetings, the Egyptian delegation delivered a long-term truce proposition from Israel to Hamas’s leadership, which included a halt in military confrontations for five to 15 years, in addition to the continued containment of the weekly Great March of Return protests at the border.
In return, Israel would have established a floating island that would have served as an Israeli-controlled seaport for Gazans, slowly lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip and allowing more dual-use goods into the coastal enclave, depending on the progress of the truce, according to the Hamas source.
While Hamas officials denied discussing a long-term truce agreement, according to a second source familiar with the negotiations who spoke to Mada Masr on condition of anonymity, Hamas instead proposed a one-year ceasefire during which Palestinian factions would assess Israel’s commitment to fulfilling its end of the deal before any talks could move forward on a long-term truce.
Two Palestinian officials — Ihsan Ataya, a representative of Islamic Jihad in Lebanon and Ziyad al-Nakhalah, the assistant secretary-general of the group — confirmed that the talks did not secure a ceasefire and instead were focused on establishing an initial period of calm. Ataya and Nakhalah told Mada Masr that Egyptian officials informed the two Palestinian factions that Israel had preliminarily agreed to their conditions for a ceasefire and that Cairo was pressuring Tel Aviv to adhere to them.
A member of Hamas’s political bureau, Ziyad al-Zaza, also confirmed to Mada Masr that the talks did not secure a long-term ceasefire. He added that Hamas discussed new security measures at the Rafah border crossing with Egyptian officials to facilitate travel for Palestinians.
According to Ataya, the Palestinian delegation called on Egyptian officials to release Palestinian members of Islamic Jihad currently imprisoned in Egypt, including Ashraf Tafesh who was arrested in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on September 20. Egyptian officials promised to release the detainees after their cases were reviewed by the courts, Ataya said, adding that between 60 to 80 detainees affiliated with Islamic Jihad have been released by Egypt in recent months.
Separately, the second Palestinian source confirmed that Hamas and Islamic Jihad had reconciled their differences following a serious rift that was sparked by comments made by Hamas regarding Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata, who was assassinated by Israel in an airstrike on his home in Gaza last month, sparking the most serious escalation of violence between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza in months. Following Abu al-Ata’s targeted assassination, senior Hamas sheikh Yassin al-Astal said that Abu al-Ata had been firing rockets into Israel in violation of terms agreed to by the joint operations room.
The Palestinian source told Mada Masr that Egyptian officials worked hard to bridge the rift between Islamic Jihad and Hamas and said the two groups agreed to set aside all their differences.