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Tensions Ease in Gaza, Allowing Money and Fuel to Roll In

Category: Middle East,World

Beyond those initial steps, much more must be done for a cease-fire to take hold, say people familiar with the Egyptian plan.

In coming weeks, Hamas expects to keep a lid on the protests — allowing peaceful demonstrations but preventing people from using explosives or wire cutters to damage the fence, for example, said Basem Naim, a former Gaza health minister.

In return, Hamas expects Egypt to ease the movement of Gaza residents through the Rafah crossing into Sinai. Hamas wants Israel to extend the Gaza fishing zone to 12, 14, or even 20 nautical miles into the Mediterranean, and to increase the number of Gaza businessmen it allows across the Israeli border.

Hamas also wants thousands of permits for Gaza laborers to cross into Israel, which Israel has rejected so far on security grounds. But Celine Touboul, a Gaza expert at Israel’s Economic Cooperation Foundation, said that could change.

“One year ago, Israeli officials would’ve told you, no way they’ll authorize a transfer of cash for Hamas civil servants,” she said. “But the situation is so tense, they’ve changed their minds.”

A more lasting d├ętente between Israel and Gaza, however, would require progress in areas where the differences seem irreconcilable. Israel wants Hamas to relinquish two Israeli captives and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers as a precondition for allowing major international reconstruction projects in Gaza. Hamas has so far refused the demand, unless it is part of a large-scale prisoner swap.

And Egypt’s main goal remains to restore the Palestinian Authority to power in Gaza. But Mr. Abbas is unlikely to go along with that unless either Hamas unilaterally disarms or Israel provides assurances that it will not punish him should Hamas, on his watch, use weapons against Israel.


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