World Bulletin / News Desk
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has claimed that Israel and Hamas are meeting “in an African country” to hold direct longterm ceasefire talk, according to an article in the UK Telegraph, and that the talks have been ongoing for nearly eight months.
An unnamed Israeli official from the prime minister’s office issued an explicit denial of any talks, saying “there are no meetings with Hamas”.
The daily Haaretz, in a separate report said that Tony Blair had been “perhaps the most significant individual to begin dealing with cease-fire initiatives in Gaza in recent months”, the paper said, and that he had met Khaled Meshal twice in recent months and had involved Israel to a certain level in order tonegotiate a longer-term ceasefire.
The “African state” are likely intended to point the finger at Egypt - a frequent mediator between Israel and Hamas.
An Israeli delegation, led by the prime minister’s special envoy Isaac Molho visited Cairo only last week for security-related meetings.
Hamas officials are also heading to Egypt soon, Middle Eastern media sources reported.
Gaza-based newspaper Al Risala on Sunday quoted a senior advisor to Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu who said that "a comprehensive agreement between Hamas and Israel" is on the way.
The official said that the agreement "will solve the issues of the blockade, opening the [border] crossings and the cease-fire between Israel and Hamas”.
The official also said that a full Turkish-Israeli reconciliation is also on the horizon, and the issue over the compensation for the 2010 Mavi Marmara flotilla raid "is likely to be resolved very soon".
The head of Israel’s opposition camp, Zionist Union chair Isaac Herzog met Mr Abbas in Ramallah on Tuesday and called for a resumption of peace negotiations.
“An agreement can be reached within two years.”, Mr Herzog said following the meeting.
“I am confident that if there’s a will, there will also be a way of reaching an arrangement that will protect Israel’s security within a two-year period. A rare regional opportunity has evolved in recent months that will allow [us] to win the support of neighboring countries to produce a direct political process between us and the Palestinians, and that mustn’t be missed”, Mr Herzog said.