x

As ceasefire deal takes shape, Mahmoud Abbas lays groundwork for return to Gaza

World Thursday 01/February/2024 11:00 AM
By: ANI
As ceasefire deal takes shape, Mahmoud Abbas lays groundwork for return to Gaza

Tel Aviv : An emerging Israel-Hamas ceasefire in Gaza will take place in three stages over a period of several weeks, the Tazpit Press Service has learned. Parallel to this, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is said to be preparing certain reforms under US pressure, which would allow him to return to Gaza.

The emerging ceasefire agreement will occur in three phases, according to the Tazpit Press Service's high-ranking sources in the Palestinian Authority, Fatah, and reports in the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel.

The basic formula is the release of one Israeli hostage for 30 imprisoned terrorists for each day of the ceasefire. That amounts to 35-40 hostages being released in exchange for Israel commuting the sentences of 1,200 Palestinian prisoners over a period of approximately six weeks.

In addition, Israel forces would withdraw from positions in Gaza cities, but not from the Strip itself, which Hamas has been demanding.

Hamas insists that women and children hostages be released in the first stage, then men and soldiers in the second stage. The final stage will see the release of the bodies of dead captives.

Palestinians will not be permitted to return to homes in northern Gaza, but Israel will allow a UN delegation to prepare the area for that eventuality.

According to Al-Arabiya sources, during the ceasefire's first stage, Israel, Egypt, Qatar and the US will discuss a civil administration for Gaza to replace Hamas. The character of this new civil administration isn't clear, but high-level sources PA and Fatah sources told TPS that the Biden administration is pressuring the Palestinian Authority to reform itself so it can return to running the Strip.

The PA's official position is that it does not want to return to Gaza or take responsibility for its reconstruction unless it is part of an agreement leading to statehood. Israel opposes the PA's return to Gaza.

Sources in Ramallah told TPS that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas intends to reform the PA by cutting back on bloated and inefficient bureaucracy, replacing diplomats representing the PA abroad, and initiating an internal self-investigation mechanism within the Palestinian Preventive Security. TPS was told that the US would have access to the internal investigations.

In addition, the US demands that the PA stop its own incitement against Israel and remove inflammatory textbooks from Palestinian curriculum.

After implementing these measures, the PA would be poised to take over Gaza.

However, nobody in Ramallah believes Abbas will see the reforms through. A November survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research found that 90% of the Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria wanted Abbas to resign, while 60% said the Palestinian Authority is ineffective and should be dissolved.

Moreover, 64% said they were opposed to the PA even participating in meetings with the US or other Arab states about Gaza's post-war future. When asked who should run Gaza after the war, 60% said Hamas, 16% said a national unity government without Abbas, and 7% said the PA with Abbas.

Palestinians have not held national elections since 2005 and Abbas is now in the 19th year of what was supposed to be a four-year term. Since then, Abbas has cancelled several attempted elections amid Fatah-Hamas disagreements, most recently in 2021.

TPS sources in Ramallah also said that the Palestinian Authority will invite "soft core" members of Hamas to be part of the new civil administration, which Israel will surely object to.