Palestinian factions say permanent ceasefire imminent
Hamas official claims 'breakthrough' in talks, while deputy chief of Islamic Jihad says forthcoming accord 'moves us from state of war to rehabilitation.'

A Hamas official claimed Thursday night that the five-day ceasefire extension was agreed upon at the last minute because of breakthrough in the talks. He claimed that there are encouraging indications that a definitive agreement may be reached within the next days.



"The formula proposed by Egypt over the last two days could lead directly to what we see as a breakthrough and an answer to our demands," he said.


Deputy chief of Islamic Jihad, Ziad Nakhleh, said that an agreement on a permanent ceasefire accords was imminent, and that the agreement would include guarantees for the lifting of the blockade on Gaza.


He claimed that the ports issue would be discussed a month after the agreement in accordance with the Egyptian proposal.


Nakhleh said the two sides agreed on the openings of the crossings, easing the restrictions on material import into Gaza, the expansion of the limited fishing zone around the Strip, and the dismantling of the security "perimeter" maintained by Israel along the border.


"The agreement moves us from a state of war to the rehabilitation phase," he said.


Nakhleh further claimed that Egypt helped block Israel's demands for a demilitarization of the militant groups, an end to the smuggling operations, weapon manufacturing, and tunnel construction. He said Egypt also promised significant relief through its border crossing in Rafah.


Palestinian delegation chief, Azzam al-Ahmad, revealed Thursday that – before he made his announcement Wednesday on the extension of the ceasefire – Hamas leader Khaled Mashal called him and asked him to thank the Egyptian leadership for mediating the talks.


Al-Ahmad sharply criticized Hamas' media outlets for trying to paint Egypt as an unfair mediator leaning towards Israel, and stressed that "these publications were intended to ruin everything."


Israel and the Palestinian terror groups in Gaza agreed Wednesday night to extend an ongoing ceasefire by another five days.


"We have agreed on a ceasefire for five days," said al-Ahmed, noting that there had been "significant progress" in a final agreement, but that disagreements remained over the wording on security arrangements, reconstruction efforts for the Gaza Strip and the permissible fishing zone for Gazans.


Roi Kais contributed to this report.


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