Turkey, Qatar propose cease-fire in parallel track with Egypt

Turkey, Qatar propose cease-fire in parallel track with Egypt

Turkey, Qatar propose cease-fire in parallel track with Egypt

An Israeli self-propelled 155mm howitzer of an artillery unit located at an unspecified location next to the Israeli border with Gaza, shelling toward targets in the Gaza Strip, 17 July 2014. AFP Photo

Turkey and Qatar are forging a plan to produce a truce between Palestinian groups and Israel to end 10 days of violence in Gaza amid additional efforts from Cairo.

Meanwhile, an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said his country and Hamas “have agreed on a cease-fire” that would begin on July 18, but Hamas denied the report.

“The news about a cease-fire is incorrect. There are continuing efforts but no agreement until now,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Agence France-Presse in Gaza.

Turkey’s efforts with Qatar are on a parallel track with Egypt to seek a truce between Israel and Palestinian groups, a Turkish diplomat told the Hürriyet Daily News.

“We seek a sustainable truce,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said in a televised interview, citing his diplomatic efforts with a series of phone conversations with counterparts from the United States, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Iran, Italy, and Germany and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal for the last two days.

A truce cannot be sustainable if the embargo on Gaza is not lifted, Davutoğlu said, noting that Israel should also “be accountable” as part of a cease-fire deal.

The proposal brokered by Turkey and Qatar aims to include elements of a 2012 agreement and effect the release of Palestinian political prisoners, requested by Hamas, according to a Turkish official.

Hamas leader is insistent on the release of prisoners, who were freed as part of an agreement for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in 2011, but recently again detained by Israel, according to Turkish officials who wanted to remain anonymous.

An Israeli truce, proposed earlier by Egypt, was not developed in consultation with Hamas and was therefore rejected by the Palestinian group on the grounds that it was not sustainable.

Hamas has consequently demanded a cease-fire based on the conditions of the 2012 agreement, which would place conditions on Israel as well, according to the sources.

Turkey has also urged the U.S. to open Gaza’s harbor under the oversight of the international community.

In two separate phone conversations with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Davutoğlu tried to persuade his American counterpart to open the port so that Palestinians could meet their daily humanitarian needs after crucial tunnels used to bring in supplies from Egypt were closed.

Abbas to visit Turkey

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will visit Turkey today for talks with Turkish leaders.

Along with efforts for a cease-fire, humanitarian assistance by Turkey to Palestine will be on the agenda, a Turkish official told the Daily News. Ankara will also urge the Palestinian leader to maintain a unity government. The issue of Palestinian refugees in Syria is also expected to be discussed, the official added.