Cairo Talks: Egypt Wants to Topple Hamas, Insert PA Forces at Gaza Crossing
Indirect talks in Cairo between Israel and Hamas to end fighting in Gaza continued on Tuesday, with the government of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, taking a leading role in opposition to the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood – backed group, Israel’s NRG News reported.
“The Egyptians are talking about opening the Rafah crossing permanently, and are insisting on the presence of 1,000 Presidential Guard officers from Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’ forces,” a Palestinian source involved in the talks revealed to NRG.
“This is part of a scheme that would combine the Palestinian security forces that would also control the crossings into Gaza. While more limited, in the end the total power of the PA forces would run to some 5,000 personnel,” the source said.
Israel, for its part, wants a demilitarized Strip, and an end of all hostilities, a senior Israeli official told The Times of Israel on Monday.
“The jury is still out, and all options remain on the table,” according to the report.
“The goal we set out at the beginning — sustained peace and security — will be achieved one way or another, through diplomatic means or through military action, or a combination of them both,” the official said.
According to the Palestinian source, “the presence of the Palestinian security forces in the Gaza Strip would help those who object to Hamas to express their views openly and may even end the Hamas regime in a peaceful manner.”
“When people do not see Hamas’ police force members, Hamas will not be able to stop or hurt them, people will be encouraged to speak out against Hamas, to express their views freely and to strengthen the opposition to Hamas in the Gaza Strip,” the source said.
Hamas Political Bureau member Izzat Rishak, who is attending the talks in Cairo, said Hamas would not object to an arrangement in which the PA would be responsible for the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip.
“We are for training a joint team that will be responsible for the rehabilitation of the Strip, and have no problem with Abbas being in charge. The staff would consist of individuals acceptable to the Palestinians, the Arab states and the international community,” Rishak added.
“We agreed to a national unity government led by Mahmoud Abbas, which is now in charge of the Gaza Strip; we announced to our brothers Abbas and the Palestinian Authority that we are ready to deliver the key to the crossing to Abu Mazen to avoid any delay in lifting the siege on the Gaza Strip.”
However, behind Rishak’s diplomatic words about unity, is the brutal reality that arch foe, Fatah, who Hamas ousted in a coup in 2007, controls the purse strings for the salaries of tens of thousands of Gazan employees.
Hamas’ “understands that rebuilding the Gaza Strip would pass only through the PA unity government. (Hamas) also understands that if they want to see funding for salaries, they must accept the agreement,” the Palestinian source said.