Senior Hamas official makes surprising statement

Hamas politburo member says the contacts on a truce with Israel are in the final stretch.

Dalit Halevi ,

Hamas terrorists at Gaza rally (file)
Hamas terrorists at Gaza rally (file)
Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Khalil al-Hayya, a member of the Hamas political bureau, said on Saturday that there was an opportunity to end the siege on Gaza, while stressing the need to realize national unity on the basis of genuine partnership.

Speaking at the Al-Salaam Mosque in Gaza, al-Hayya said that the contacts on this issue are in the final stretch. He added the Palestinian people will never surrender and will not raise the white flag.

He noted that the so-called “March of the Return” protests that began on March 30 were troubling the residents of the Gaza Belt communities, and they exerted pressure on the Israeli leadership, which acted to move the world into action in order to curb the processions.

"There is an approach and a decision even in the occupation to end the suffering of Gaza," claimed al-Hayya. He added that national unity was needed to deal with the plots to eliminate the Palestinian problem through settlement, the Nationality Law, and the aspiration to abolish the status of the “Palestinian refugees”.

"We are marching towards the realization of true Palestinian unity," said al-Hayya, as quoted by the Hamas newspaper Felesteen. "We want true partnership, one leadership, one government, one authority, one struggle that is conducted in the proper way."

His comments came a day after the leadership of Hamas convened for a rare meeting to discuss a possible truce with Israel.

It was be the full first meeting of the movement's political bureau since talks held in Cairo in 2017, officials said.

Among those attending was Hamas' deputy leader Salah Al-Arouri, who crossed the border from Egypt on Thursday with eight other Hamas leaders based outside Gaza.

Arouri, who lives in Lebanon and has never before visited Gaza as he is considered the most wanted Hamas terrorist, was given Egyptian and United Nations assurances over his safety, according to a Hamas source.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Thursday delayed a planned visit to Colombia amid speculation that a truce agreement could be reached within days.

Such a deal would involve a long-term cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hamas in exchange for a significant easing of the Jewish state's economic blockade of Gaza, according to Hamas and UN officials.

An agreement could allow international donors to fund a series of programs including electricity and water network upgrades in Gaza.

It could also cover a prisoner exchange with Hamas which holds the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, two soldiers killed in 2014 during the counterterrorism Operation Protective Edge.