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Israel, Hamas negotiate, but truce still far off

Israel and Hamas are directly and indirectly discussing the possibility of a long-term truce, and their main point of convergence is the quest to weaken the Ramallah leadership.
Palestinian policemen loyal to Hamas march during a military graduation ceremony in Gaza City June 16, 2015. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

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Middle East newswires are humming with news flashes about ongoing Israeli-Hamas contacts, aiming to bring about a long-term truce in exchange for the economic rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip. Reports on the matter are sometimes conflicting. Nevertheless, we have yet to hear a clear denial from the Israeli government about such negotiations. Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman has accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu several times of "surrendering to terror," and rumors about such contacts have continued to spread in the Israeli media.

A well-informed source close to Netanyahu told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that messages about an eventual truce deal are indeed being passed between the prime minister's and defense minister's offices and the Hamas leadership in Gaza — mostly indirectly through the Egyptian intelligence services, but also directly between Israeli and Palestinian security forces on the ground. Furthermore, the topic was also raised in the June 22 talks between Turkish and Israeli Foreign Ministry officials in Rome.

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