Hamas, joined by the Palestinian Authority and backed by Palestinian public opinion insists that the conditions for a ceasefire with Israel are a full lifting of the blockade and the release of those recently detained in the West Bank.
In a letter sent to the United States, members of the Arab League as well as other governments involved in negotiations, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority outlined their conditions required for a ceasefire:
The conditions listed are:
– the opening of borders and freedom of movement for Gazan residents;
– the opening of the Rafah crossing in coordination with Egypt and the Palestinian Authority;
– the release of prisoners who were re-arrested after they were released in the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal (during Israel’s “Operation Brother’s Keeper” in which Israel without evidence or any due process began arresting Palestinians following the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers);
– the carrying out of the fourth prisoner release (which Israel refused to do);
– permitting Gazan fishermen to sail up to 12 nautical miles from shore; and
– enabling freedom of movement for Palestinians in currently restricted corridors, including agricultural areas along the Strip’s border.
Hamas and the Palestinian Authority are also demanding an international committee be set up to guarantee to implementation of the agreement.
“We will not accept any initiative that does not lift the blockade on our people and that does not respect their sacrifices,” Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’ leader re-iterated to reporters at a news conference in Qatar on July 23. “The years of blockade have killed more of our people than have the wars,” he added. Meshaal said he does not “wish for war” but reiterated that Hamas “will not yield” unless their conditions for a ceasefire are met.
Referring to the Israeli blockade in force since 2006, on July 21 former Palestinian Prime Minister and leader of the government in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh said on television, “We cannot go backwards, to a slow death…The conditions of the Palestinian resistance constitute the minimum required for a truce. The resistance and the sons of our people who have made such sacrifices in this mad war cannot accept anything less.”
The demand for an end to the blockade as a condition for any ceasefire has the broad support of the Palestinian people. Prominent Palestinian academics, public figures and activists who recently published an open letter in the online journal Electronic Intifada, wrote:
“We call for a ceasefire only when negotiated conditions result in freedom of movement of Palestinians in and out of the Gaza Strip.” Gaza must be allowed “unlimited import and export” of goods and “unrestricted use of the Gaza seaport,” the letter said.
“Each of these expectations is taken for granted by most countries, and it is time for the Palestinians of Gaza to be accorded the human rights they deserve,” the letter added.
(Ha’aretz, Middle East Eye)