Gaza’s ruling Hamas leader, Yahya Sinwar said they are willing to negotiate with Israel if it means lifting the 12 year blockade on the besieged Strip.
In a rare interview on Friday, Sinwar told Italian journalist Francesca Borri, another war with Israel would not be in their interest.
Sinwar also said Hamas would be willing to exchange prisoners as part of any future agreement with Israel to end the blockade of Gaza.
The exclusive interview was published on Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth and Italian newspaper La Repubblica.
During the interview, Sinwar outlined his views on a ceasefire with Israel as entailing “complete calm” and an end to the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza.
“Through war, we don’t achieve anything,” he said, describing Gaza’s daily struggle with the blockade. We are always under occupation, it’s a daily aggression. It’s just of varying intensity,
Sinwar said that another war in the Gaza Strip would not be beneficial for Gaza, understanding the Strip would come up short against the Israeli army.
“The truth is that a new war is in no one’s interest. For sure, it is not in ours. Who would like to face a nuclear power with slingshots?
“For Netanyahu, a victory would be even worse than a defeat, because it would be the fourth war. And they are trying their best to get rid of the Palestinians of the West Bank and keep a Jewish majority.
I don’t think they want an additional two million Arabs. No. War achieves nothing,” Sinwar added.
Peace negotiations between Israel and Hamas commenced in August after a surge in cross-border rockets and air strikes prompted UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov and Egyptian officials to attempt to broker a truce to prevent another all-out conflict.
Clashes along the Gaza separation fence with Israel during the ‘Great March of Return’ has also fuelled the need for peace talks.
The Palestinian death toll in Gaza since March has reached 183 with over 18,000 injured by Israeli forces, during weekly protests calling for the end to the blockade and return of Palestinian refugees to their historic homeland.
According to Al Jazeera, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in August, “we are indeed speaking with the Egyptians, the UN and officials in the international arena.
“As far as I’m concerned there’s only one arrangement and that is the reality on the ground,” he said, meaning Israel wants Gaza along Israel’s fence to be calm, Lieberman said.
Israel is also seeking the return of two Israeli citizens believed held by Hamas.
Hamas is demanding Israel lifts the 12 year blockade, with permanent opening of the border with Egypt and solutions to Gaza’s lack of drinking water and electricity, which currently only runs for four hours per day.
If brokered, this deal would serve as an enormous relief to Gaza, however the Fatah Party – which largely controls Palestinian areas in the West Bank – believes this deal will break Palestinian unity.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on August 16 he opposes any truce between Hamas and Israel that doesn’t see international aid to Gaza managed by the Palestinian Authority.
Source: Palestine Monitor