Hamas 'plans to offer long-term ceasefire'


Security co-ordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority continued as normal this week despite a request by the PLO last week for the agreement to be suspended.

Meanwhile, a report this week suggested that Hamas was considering offering a long-term truce with Israel.

The PLO's decision reflected the ongoing tension between Jerusalem and Ramallah following the PA's decision to seek war crimes indictments against Israel at the International Criminal Court and Israel's decision to freeze tax revenues it collects on behalf of the PA.

The PLO decision does not oblige President Mahmoud Abbas - who controls the security apparatus - to end military co-operation. So far, the security coordination has continued as normal and the PA this week embarked on a major crackdown on Hamas, which included dozens of arrests.

A senior Israeli security official said last week that, for now, the two sides have a joint interest in maintaining calm in the West Bank and preventing Hamas from operating. However, he said that if the deadlock between the two sides goes on, that could change.

On Friday morning in Jerusalem, there was a reminder of the violence that could break out at any moment when a 21-year-old Palestinian man ran over a group of female police officers, near national police headquarters on Ammunition Hill.

Seven were injured, none seriously, and a guard shot and wounded the attacker, who was not known to have any links to terror groups.

Meanwhile, there have been reports of an offer from senior figures in Hamas for a long-term ceasefire with Israel.

The proposed agreement, which Hamas spokespeople have denied, included a cessation of military activities in Gaza, including the manufacture of rockets and digging of tunnels, in return for an end to the blockade on the Strip imposed by Israel and Egypt.

The basic parameters of this deal are not very different from deals proposed by senior Israeli officials last summer at the end of Operation Protective Edge in Gaza, whereby the area would gradually be opened up and its civilian infrastructure rebuilt, in return for the disarmament of Hamas's rocket arsenals.

It is unclear, however, how far Hamas is prepared to disarm.

The talks on a long-term solution for Gaza, which began in Cairo, were suspended indefinitely by the Egyptians after the first round. An Egyptian court has since announced that it sees Hamas as a terror organisation.

The Hamas proposal reflects the growing economic pressure within Gaza. Last week, senior EU diplomats blamed the PA for delaying rebuilding efforts in the Strip, despite Israel's cooperation with the international efforts to push through construction projects.

This week, the outgoing UN representative to the Middle East, Robert Serry, proposed a three- to five-year truce to enable the rehabilitation of Gaza.

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