Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hamas Demands Open Borders

Financial Times (reporting from Rafah in the Gaza Strip), January 25, 2009 - Hamas will not consider renewing its ceasefire with Israel on Sunday unless the Jewish state agrees to open fully its borders with the Gaza Strip, according to a senior official from the Palestinian militant group.

A Hamas delegation is due in Cairo on Sunday for talks with Egyptian authorities aimed at shoring up the fragile ceasefire declared a week earlier, which brought the 22-day conflict in the Gaza Strip to a halt.

Ahmed Yousef, a close aide to Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas government which controls Gaza, told the Financial Times that the group would not sign a new ceasefire if Israel refused to fully open the borders.

”If the suffering does not end, then there can be no ceasefire,” Mr Yousef said in an interview at his base in Rafah, on the Gazan border with Egypt. Keeping the borders closed would keep Gaza ”in a state of siege, under sanctions,” which would amount to ”a declaration of war,” he said.

But if the ceasefire agreed in June 2008 – allowing for the opening of the crossings and gradual prisoner exchanges – were renewed, Hamas could sign for 12 rather than six months this time....

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