JERUSALEM – Egypt is attempting to bring back former Fatah strongman Mohammed Dahlan to rule in the Gaza Strip, an Egyptian official involved in cease-fire negotiations told WND.
Dahlan, the former leader of Fatah in Gaza, is a major political nemesis of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Dahlan currently lives in the United Arab Emirates.
The Egyptian move has prompted Abbas to reach out to Saudi Arabia, asking the Saudis to gain more influence in the truce talks to counterbalance the central role currently being played by Egypt, the Egyptian official said.
In 2007, it was Dahlan’s Fatah forces that lost control of the Gaza Strip in a coup staged against them by Hamas members.
Dahlan’s deployment to Gaza is not included as a condition in the current draft version of the cease-fire agreement being brokered by Egypt. However, it is part of the long-term strategy being discussed between Israel and Egypt.
Secretary of State John Kerry is currently in Jerusalem. Kerry has urged Hamas sign onto the Egyptian truce proposal.
Last week, WND reported on the details of the draft version of the Egypt-brokered cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, including one point that has Hamas’ Fatah rivals taking over the border crossings between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
An Egyptian official said the truce would allow Fatah’s militias to control the Egypt-Gaza borders, bringing Fatah back to the Gaza Strip in an official capacity for the first time since Hamas deposed it from the territory in the 2007 military coup.
According to the Egyptian official, there are currently two deals being negotiated at the same time.
The first deal calls for an immediate cessation of all Hamas rocket attacks and a halt to Israel’s military campaign targeting Hamas’s infrastructure in Gaza while a long-term cease-fire is discussed.
Once a short-term truce is implemented, a longer-term deal will be immediately negotiated with the goal of coming to an agreement within days.
The truce is being negotiated with input from Qatar and Turkey, said the diplomat.
The current version of the draft truce contains these concessions to Hamas:
- Egypt’s reopening of Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip, with the border possibly manned by Palestinian Authority security forces.
- Egyptian recognition that Hamas is a regional player to be dealt with directly.
- Qatar will provide funds to help pay the salaries of Hamas employees, a key concern for Hamas that may have helped lead to the current conflict.
- Israel releasing some of its naval blockade of Gaza and enlarging a “fishing zone” by several kilometers to give Hamas autonomy in the Mediterranean Sea bordering Gaza.
- An Egyptian pledge to talk with the Israelis about releasing 58 Hamas members arrested in the West Bank in recent weeks in response to the kidnap and murder of three Israeli teenagers.