Exclusive: Damascus co-opted to Hamas-Cairo talks on Gaza truce

debkafile‘s Middle East sources report a new bump on the road to a truce in Gaza: The various Palestinian radical factions, led by Hamas, which are negotiating terms in Cairo, want to bring Syria into any ceasefire deal as co-sponsor with Egypt.
Damascus however has laid down its own conditions and thrown a spanner in the works. Our sources report that the Palestinian Jihad Islami representatives were flown from Damascus to Cairo last week aboard a special Syrian military intelligence flight authorized by Syrian president Bashar Assad. The dickering begun in Cairo last week therefore continued Wednesday, April 30 on a new basis.
The Syrian complication has drawn even more vehement denials of direct talks with Hamas from prime minister Ehud Olmert and defense minister Ehud Barak. They are walking on thin ice. It might crack if even an informal ceasefire was seen to be sponsored by Damascus, host of the Palestinian terrorist organizations’ high commands.
To sidestep this difficulty, the Israeli side has suggested that Egypt arrange for Israel and Hamas to coordinate reciprocal pauses in hostilities on a pre-agreed date and time without any formal announcement.
debkafile‘s sources add this plan faces three further pitfalls:
1. Israel cannot meet Hamas demands for a full re-opening of all the Gaza crossings and an end of its blockade, but is willing to let the present transit of food and fuel convoys carry on.
2. Neither Israel nor Egypt is willing to have the Rafah crossing to Sinai fully operational – only partially.
3. Hamas’ radical allies, the Jihad Islami and the Fronts, will not join a ceasefire unless Syria is a party to it.
In the last 24 hours, Egyptian officials were told Syria’s support had a high price: Cairo must bring Riyadh round to patching up its quarrel with Damascus over Lebanon. But Egypt’s initial feeler elicited a sharp Saudi rebuff.
Despite all these setbacks, Cairo and Jerusalem believe a truce will eventually come about because Hamas is eager for a short pause in the fighting and a partial easing of the blockade against Gaza.
Hamas leaders have said bluntly that any pause would be “tactical” to permit its “fighters to recuperate” for the next round of war against Israel. This is the most Israel can expect.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email