Wednesday, December 13, 2017
News Roundup

Israel, Hamas to negotiate new Gaza deal in Cairo

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — The outlines of a solution for battered, blockaded Gaza are emerging after Tuesday's tentative Israel-Hamas cease-fire: Norway is organizing a donor conference and Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas aims to oversee rebuilding and reassert his authority in the territory, lost to Hamas in 2007.

Forces loyal to Abbas would be deployed at Gaza's crossings to encourage Israel and Egypt to lift the closure they imposed after the Hamas takeover.

Indirect Israel-Hamas talks in Cairo are to tackle the details. The hope is that promises of a better life for Gazans will coax compromise and avert what had been looking like a fight to the finish. But the gaps remain wide, especially between Israel and Hamas.

Israel says it has inflicted a painful blow to Hamas' military capabilities in the monthlong fighting and wants to make sure the group cannot re-arm if border restrictions are eased.

"The extent to which we are going to be ready to cooperate with the efforts to have better access and movement in Gaza will deeply depend on the kind of arrangements that would secure our peace and security," said Yossi Kuperwasser, a senior official in Israel's Strategic Affairs Ministry.

Hamas has signaled flexibility on ceding some authority to Abbas in Gaza but insists on having a say on reconstruction and that it will not disarm.

Izzat Rishq, a senior Hamas official, said disarming isn't up for discussion. "We'd take the life of anyone who tries to take the weapons of resistance," he told the Associated Press.

Mohammed Mustafa, a deputy prime minister in the Abbas-led government, said he has started preparing a Gaza reconstruction plan that would be presented at an international pledging conference in Norway.

Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Veslemoey Salvesen confirmed that Norway will host the conference in early September.

Mustafa, an economist, said in a phone interview from the West Bank that the war caused at least $6 billion in immediate damage, but the figure is expected to rise once inspectors can survey the territory.

Abbas expects to take the lead in any reconstruction effort, Mustafa said, suggesting that Hamas should step aside and enable the Abbas-led unity government to carry out the task.

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