CAIRO TRUCE TALKS: KEY DEMANDS
Israeli and Palestinian officials are holding indirect talks through Egyptian mediators in Cairo seeking to extend a temporary truce in Gaza before it expires today.
Here are their key demands and seemingly irreconcilable positions:
- THE BLOCKADE -
Hamas and the Palestinian Authority want Israel to end a land and sea blockade imposed on Gaza in 2006 after Hamas captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
Israel tightened the blockade in summer 2007 after Hamas forcibly took over Gaza, ousting forces loyal to president Mahmud Abbas. Israel eased restrictions on imports of food and construction materials in 2010 following international outcry over a botched Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla which was trying break the blockade, which left 10 Turks dead.Some restrictions were further eased after the last Israel-Hamas conflict in Gaza in 2012.Hamas wants fishing zones extended, and to have a port and an airport.
-BORDER CROSSING WITH EGYPT-
The Palestinians want Egypt to reopen the Rafah border crossing, where Israel has no jurisdiction. Gaza residents have only two ways to access the outside world: through the Rafah crossing with Egypt or through the northern Erez crossing into Israel. There is also a goods terminal at Kerem Shalom, at the southernmost point of the Israel-Gaza border.There are four other crossing points into Gaza which have been closed for years: Sufa in the south, Kissufim in central Gaza and Karni and Nahal Oz in the north. The Palestinians want all of them reopened.
Israel says it is ready to ease the blockade only if its security needs are guaranteed.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded the demilitarisation of the Gaza Strip. Hamas has flatly refused. Netanyahu wants strict controls on goods crossing into Gaza and international oversight on materials imported for reconstruction to ensure that Hamas cannot rebuild a complex network of cross-border tunnels .
- PRISONERS -
Hamas wants Israel to free around 60 prisoners, who were released in a prisoner swap deal in 2011 then re-arrested in June after three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and murdered in the West Bank. They are also asking for the release of 37 Palestinian MPs who have been arrested by Israel over the years, all but two of them Hamas members. They are also asking for the release of scores of Palestinian MPs who have been arrested by Israel over the years. Israel has refuses to release them.
-ROLE OF PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY -
Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organisation of president Mahmud Abbas are officially negotiating as one in Cairo. In April, Hamas signed a unity agreement with the PLO, which is dominated by Fatah and which has been at odds with Hamas for years. The reconciliation saw the former rivals setting up a consensus government that took office in June, ending seven years of separate administrations. Israel wants Abbas's security forces to retake control of Gaza and deploy on the Palestinian side of the Egyptian border crossing and for international donor money to be dispersed through Abbas. That could amount to a U-turn for Netanyahu who has so far refused to cooperate with the unity government on grounds that it was backed by Hamas.