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Palestinian factions meet, Hamas denies Israel talks

June 17, 2015 10:37 P.M. (Updated: June 30, 2015 12:59 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- The Hamas movement has denied that it reached a long-term agreement with Israel, member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s politburo said Wednesday.

Saleh Zeidan’s statement came after a Palestinian faction meeting that included the Hamas movement, the DFLP, PFLP, Islamic Jihad and the PPP in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.

Zeidan added that Hamas must issue an official statement affirming its denial.

He warned that any unilateral long-term agreements between Hamas and Israel would have "dangerous consequences" and would be to the benefit of an Israeli plan to separate the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian national project.

Zeidan added that the DFLP backs forming a national consensus government that would include all factions, including Hamas, calling upon the president to hold an immediate meeting to form a national unity government.

Hamas sources said Tuesday thatIsrael and the movement have been holding an indirect exchange about ideas for cementing a long-term truce in the Gaza Strip.

The exchanges have gone through a number of Arab and European channels in a bid to firm up a ceasefire agreement that took hold last August, ending a 50-day war in Gaza.

"There has been indirect contact between Israel and Hamas, messages passed via Arab channels as well as through European and Turkish sources," one of the sources told AFP, describing it as "an indirect exchange of ideas."

The contacts were confirmed by an Israeli source.

The Egyptian-brokered truce came into effect on August 26, with the sides pledging to resume indirect contacts within a month to pin down a lasting ceasefire and discuss crunch issues.

But the follow-up talks were delayed several times and never formally resumed.

"We are ready for an agreement. Hamas wants to solve the problems in Gaza," the source in the movement said.

But he insisted the contacts were purely informal and that there was no formal initiative or proposal on the table.

"Hamas has received some European envoys in Gaza and Doha with messages from Israel.

"We received several envoys but it's not officially talks. It's indirect ideas and communication," he said, noting the involvement of a UN official as well as members of the European parliament.

Asked about the indirect contact with Hamas, an Israeli source confirmed there had been some discussions.

"There are contacts with Egypt and other elements over an easing of the blockade and the entry of materials to Gaza in exchange for quiet," he told AFP.

Indirect exchanges between the two sides come as past weeks have seen sporadic rocket fire towards Israel from Gaza, most attacks claimed by a small group by the name of Sheikh Omar Hadid-Bayt al-Maqdis, allegedly aiming to challenge Hamas' rule in the strip.

No damage or injuries have been reported from the attacks.

Israel has responded by targeting Hamas infrastructure in air strikes.

Hamas denies involvement in the attacks and has attempted to vamp down on armed activity by smaller political groups reportedly growing more active.

"Hamas is finding it difficult to control Islamic Jihad and other elements in order to do this," the Israeli source told AFP, referring to Hamas' ability to maintain quiet in the coastal enclave.

In addition to sporadic rockets, Israeli forces frequently enter the Gaza Strip and Palestinians along both the land and seaside borders are facing near daily fire from forces, with three Palestinian fishermen shot dead since September. Israeli watchdogs say the incursions violate Israel's agreed limits of the Israeli-implemented security buffer zone that runs inside around the entirety of the strip.
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