Israel would have released Hamas prisoners in exchange for a demilitarized Gaza, sources say, but the terror group did not agree. Moreover, Hamas said it plans to resume fighting promptly at 8 am Friday, when the 72-hour cease fire runs out.
So Israel is now asking Germany and the EU to help with administration over Gaza to prevent future security problems.
Egyptian sources who spoke to the Hebrew-language Yediot Aharanot newspaper say that during cease fire talks in Cairo, Israeli negotiators agreed to release Hamas prisoners in exchange for demilitarizing Gaza.
The Israelis also considered the possibility of building a small airport and seaport in Gaza, but did not make a final decision on the issue. The sources said Israel refused to back down from the issue of demilitarizing Gaza, however, though the Jewish State was willing to also lift the blockade and expand the fishing zone.
In fact, Israel was willing to be flexible on nearly all the demands put forth by the Palestinian Arab factions – but not on the issue of disarming Gaza, the sources said.
Israel is now calling on the European Union to step in and take an active role in dealing with the thorny issue of how to monitor the security issues from Gaza.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman told the German newspaper Bild in an interview published Thursday that inspectors from the EU and Germany should be sent to “monitor the Palestinians’ trade with neighboring countries… The EU already did that once at a crossing in Rafah in southern Gaza,” Liberman reminded.
The foreign minister added that Israel does not want to have to deal with administering Gaza after withdrawing its troops and communities from the region in 2005, but said a reasonable solution for Gaza residents must be found. He called on Germany to take a leading role in finding a viable resolution to the problem.
Until Hamas seized control over Gaza in 2007, the “EUBAM” program was started by the EU following Israel’s 2005 Disengagement from Gaza. EUBAM assigned 70 European observers as monitors over movement of human, material and vehicular traffic at the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt.
Meanwhile, the entire discussion may be academic for the time being: Hamas rejected the extension of the current 72-hour cease fire beyond Friday at 8 am.