Hamas, Israel reportedly negotiating long-term accord


TEL AVIV (JTA) — Israel and Hamas reportedly are negotiating a long-term deal that would end Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip in exchange for an end to Hamas attacks on Israel.

Based on Arabic-language news sources, Israeli papers are reporting that negotiations on the agreement are in their final stages, and that the agreement has been approved by the Shura Council, Hamas’ legislative body. Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is mediating the accord, and Hamas is negotiating it in partnership with Turkey and Qatar.

The agreement reportedly would include the construction of a port in the Gaza Strip. En route to Gaza, ships would pass through another port in Cyprus, where they would be examined by either Turkish or NATO authorities. According to the Times of Israel, the agreement also would include permits for thousands of Gazan day laborers to work in Israel. In exchange, Hamas would commit to ceasing all rocket attacks and tunneling into Israel.

Negotiations received encouragement recently from Saudi Arabia, which aims to create a broad, Sunni-based alliance to counter Iran’s regional ambitions, according to Haaretz. The same newspaper reported that the Israel-Hamas agreement would improve Israel’s ties with Turkey, which deteriorated after nine Turks were killed when the Israel Defense Forces stormed a Turkish boat aimed at breaking Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza in 2010.

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