Gaza, Asharq Al-Awsat- Informed Palestinian sources have disclosed to Asharq Al-Awsat that European parties have intensified their efforts to mediate between the Hamas movement and Israel in connection with reaching a comprehensive deal under which the blockade is lifted and the Israeli operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are stopped in return for a halt to the firing of locally-made rockets at Jewish towns and blocs in the Strip’s vicinity.
The sources said a meeting was recently held between a British diplomat and figures from Hamas which touched on the movement’s stand on calm with Israel and this diplomat conveyed this view to the Israeli Government. According to the sources, Hamas’s vision of the comprehensive deal requires Israel’s commitment to stop its military operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in return for the Palestinian resistance movement stopping the launch of rockets. Hamas demands the immediate lifting of the blockade imposed on the Strip, the opening of the crossings between the Strip and Israel and the Strip and Egypt, and the closure of the prisoners swap deal under which Israeli soldier Gil’ad Shalit would be released in return for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners. The sources pointed out that more European parties, specifically representatives of the Norwegian Government, are continuing the contacts with Hamas figures and said a senior member of the Norwegian Embassy in Israel is holding periodic contacts with Hamas’s leaders and elite figures linked to the movement which focus on the possibility of reaching a comprehensive calm between the resistance and Israel. The sources added that German figures which previously held diplomatic and security posts met with figures from Hamas and discussed with them the possibility of calm with Israel.
According to the Palestinian sources, the Turkish Government is showing great enthusiasm in playing the mediator’s role because of its good relations with both sides and said Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan expressed at a meeting with a former Palestinian minister his government’s desire to mediate between Hamas and Tel Aviv. But Hamas has no doubts that the European parties’ efforts will fail because of Israel’s refusal to offer any commitment to lift the blockade and stop the Israeli army’s operations in the West Bank but the movement continues to deal with them in the hope that this will help push the Europeans into taking firmer decisions against the blockade imposed on the Strip. The sources said Hamas is eager to create the conditions that allow the EU to take more steps against the blockade following the European parliament’s appeal last week. They stressed that Hamas turned down a proposal from Israeli parties, which was conveyed by European mediators, calling for holding unofficial meetings abroad between figures from Hamas and Israeli ones. The sources asserted that Hamas interpreted the Israeli offer as an attempt “to burn the movement” and embarrass it, stressing that Israel would try to exploit these meetings in its maneuverings with Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas (Abu-Mazin).
The sources went on to point out that the meetings with the Europeans come as the movement prepares to intensify the mass protests against the blockade in all directions, adding that it is preparing “dramatic” steps in terms of an attempt to overrun the borders with Israel, adding that the meetings with the Europeans and the willingness to deal with political initiatives are meant to embarrass the Israeli Government and an attempt to get international support for the mass action against the blockade.