Israel, Hamas negotiating truce agreements 17Feb13 February 17, 2013

Al Ahram Online    -    16 February 2013

2013-634966078307542240-754Israel and Gaza-rulers Hamas have been holding indirect talks on easing the blockade on the Palestinian enclave, Channel 2 television reported Friday, under the terms of a truce deal reached last year.

The report said the talks have been going on for “a number of weeks,” and involved Israeli army officers. Both sides speak only via Egyptian mediators, it said.

The report on the privately owned channel noted that these negotiations were part of the agreements reached between Israel and Gaza after the deadly week-long conflict in and around the Gaza Strip last November.

Talks included opening the Rafah crossing on Gaza’s border with Egypt to enable the transfer of construction materials from Qatar, as well as enabling agricultural produce from Gaza to enter Israel.

A Hamas spokesman on Friday said that in the past two weeks there have been no talks, but in the past there has been contact between their representatives and the Egyptians on implementing the truce.

In November, senior Hamas official Mussa Abu Marzuk said an Israeli delegation was due in Cairo for indirect talks with Hamas on easing the Gaza blockade.

Israel has restricted the import of goods into Gaza since 2006, when Palestinian militants captured an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid.

The blockade was tightened a year later after Hamas seized Gaza from its secular Fatah rivals in fighting that erupted after the Islamist group won legislative elections.

In December, Israel announced it was to begin allowing materials for private construction into Gaza for the first time since 2007.

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