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Hamas will not disarm as part of ceasefire with Israel: official

Palestinian militants from the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, a military wing of Hamas, check out a sniper gun during a weapon exhibition at a Hamas-run youth summer camp, in Gaza City, Wednesday, July 20, 2016.
(AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Hamas will not disarm or “pay any political price” as part of a ceasefire agreement with Israel, an official from the Gaza ruler said on Monday.

"We benefit from the truce. Our weapons will remain in our hands and there are no conditions regarding Hamas's right to (continue) the resistance. The truce does not require a political price (from Hamas) and it is not part of the deal of the century," senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar reportedly told online newspaper Al-Khaleej.

For months, both the United Nations and Egypt have been mediating between Hamas and Israel in order to bring an end to violence along the Gaza border and also ease conditions in the impoverished Palestinian coastal enclave.

The latter is exactly what Hamas is seeking to gain from the ceasefire, according to Zahar, who said the truce is "just a humanitarian step for the sake of the people of Gaza."

The proposal under discussion is said to include a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the restoration of control over the enclave to the Abbas-led PA and the advancement of a number of humanitarian projects.

(AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)

Hezbollah-affiliated media network al-Mayadeen published a report on Thursday claiming that Qatar will play a large role in financing the arrangement, funding Hamas officials’ salaries as well as fuel for the Strip.

The establishment of a direct shipping route between Gaza and Cyprus was also referenced, with Israel's Hadashot TV reporting that Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman conditioned the building of the seaport on the return of the bodies of two fallen IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens being held captive by Hamas.

Zahar said that there had been some real progress the past couple of days in Cairo between Palestinian officials and Egyptian intelligence, such as easing travel restrictions from Gaza, but that the main focus was now on the establishment of a sea port in Cyprus leading to Gaza.

The Palestinian factions have returned from Cairo to celebrate the Muslim feast Eid al-Adha, but are expected to return on Friday when the feast ends to continue negotiations.

Another senior Hamas official, Musa Abu Marzouk, said on Monday that he found it “strange” that Abbas’ Fatah party would insist that Hamas disarm and hand over the control of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority.

Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense

The ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas continue to cause frictions to the already fragile relationship between internal Palestinian factions.

London based Al-Hayat daily newspaper reported on Sunday that Abbas insists that Egyptian efforts prioritize intra-Palestinian reconciliation between his Fatah party and Hamas, ahead of any ceasefire agreement with Israel, which he would eventually seek to play a central role in.

Last week, Abbas reportedly declined to meet with Egypt’s intelligence chief General Abbas Kamel who made a flying visit to Israel on Wednesday to continue thrashing out the long-term Israel and Hamas truce.

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on Monday slammed Hamas for its ceasefire negotiations with Israel.

"Hamas will bear historic responsibility for aborting the Palestinian national project if it signs an agreement with Israel. The Gaza Strip is an integral part of our homeland, and Hamas needs to realize that Israel and the US want to exclude the two million residents of the Gaza Strip (from a future political settlement)," Erekat said.

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