Israel, Hamas closer to conflict than calm, report warns

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar (centre) takes part in a rally as Palestinians call for a 'Day of Rage' to protest Israel's plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, in Gaza City (Mahmud Hams - AFP)

Middle East Monitor  /  August 16, 2021

The site said indirect talks between Israel and Hamas that have taken place over the past few weeks in Cairo, aimed at achieving the longest possible period of calm in exchange for improving the economic situation in Gaza, did not result in any breakthroughs. Israel and Hamas are closer to resuming armed confrontation than achieving calm and reaching a truce, Israel’s Ynet News website said yesterday.

According to Ynet, Hamas has insisted on its conditions to conclude a prisoner exchange deal with Israel while Tel Aviv insists on its position regarding the disbursement of the Qatari grant and the reconstruction of the besieged enclave.

The site quoted sources familiar with the talks as saying that Hamas did not show any flexibility that leads to a breakthrough with regard to the prisoners’ deal, although it has shown a slightly positive attitude towards the Israeli demands, compared to the position presented at the start of the negotiations.

The sources added that Israel insisted on linking the reconstruction of Gaza and improving the situation in the enclave to solving the prisoners’ issue with Hamas, noting that Israel may allow simple reconstruction in return for pushing the issue forward, but the complete reconstruction will not be approved until the issue is fully resolved.

According to the site, as it stands, the situation between Israel and Hamas leaves them closer to resuming armed confrontation than achieving calm.

The site said Hamas is threatening more forcefully that the coming days may witness a gradual escalation that will lead to another round of confrontation because Israel insists on refusing to allow Qatari aid money as it has previously.

The website pointed out that Israel, Qatar, the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations’ attempts to transfer the Qatari grant through banks affiliated with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Gaza have failed, noting that the banks also fear that they will be accused of financing “terrorism”.