The London-based Asharq al-Awsat reported Saturday that Hamas has suggested representatives of the Palestinian Authority be stationed at the Rafah crossing, but that they be residents of Gaza, not the West Bank.
Also on Saturday, Hamas officials laid out some of their conditions for a continuation of the Gaza truce and for the release of captured Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit.Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha told Asharq Al-Awsat that his group wants European Union and Turkish troops to patrol Gaza's border crossings with Israel
According to the article, Assad told Meshal, currently in exile in Damascus, that the Palestinian peoples' response to Israel Defense Forces operation "Cast Lead" was evidence of their "commitment to their inalienable rights to their land and homes, and of their deep faith in their ultimate victory over occupation and aggression."
The delegation reportedly told Syrian officials that Syria is the first stop in a tour of countries in the Middle East in order to "express their gratitude to them for standing by the Palestinian people during the aggression."
An Egyptian official has said that Israel achieved all of its military objectives during "Operation Cast Lead" in the Gaza Strip, having exacted serious blows to Hamas and it's infrastructure, according to an article published in the Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat on Saturday.
The official is quoted in the article as saying that senior Hamas leaders are still in hiding out of fear of Israel Defense Forces strikes, and that Israel is not interested in pursuing a new calm or Tahadiyeh with the militant group.
The Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported this week that the head of Hamas' political bureau in Damascus, Khaled Meshal, expressed disappointment at the Arab reaction to the operation during a closed session of the Arab summit in Qatar. Not only did Hamas remain almost alone in the campaign against Israel, it also suffered a painful blow in the military confrontation. The best proof of this was its agreement to an unconditional cease-fire while IDF troops were still in the Gaza Strip. Al-Ahram reports that Meshal admitted that he had not expected the Israeli reaction to be so severe and sustained - the same sentiment that was expressed by Hassan Nasrallah in Lebanon two and half years ago.
Outwardly, Hamas broadcast a different message. Military Intelligence tends to give Hamas high grades for the credibility of its announcements in ordinary times. But since the start of the ground operation, Hamas' fabrications have gone off the charts. One of the organization's spokesmen claimed this week that Hamas had expelled the IDF from the Gaza Strip. The spokesman of the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas' military wing, admitted to losing only 48 of its men in the fighting. And how many Israeli soldiers were killed? Forty-nine, according to Hamas (in reality, 10 soldiers were killed). Conversations with residents of Ramallah and East Jerusalem indicate that from their point of view, Hamas won. They claim that Hamas withstood Israeli military pressure and that the IDF struck only civilians in the Gaza Strip. Asked why they think Hamas stopped firing rockets, they explain that it was a good-will gesture to Barack Obama on the occasion of his inauguration.
Arab leaders have pledged $2bn to help reconstruct the Gaza Strip after a three week Israeli offensive that devastated the territory's infrastructure, left 1,300 Palestinians dead, and thousands more displaced.
But there have been disagreements over how the aid will find its way into Gaza, with countries including Saudi Arabia concerned about giving funds directly to Hamas, which currently administers the Gaza Strip.
Rifts over Israel
"They [the Arab leaders] decided to confine themselves in a general statement to postpone differences," Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra reported from Kuwait.
"Saudis and Egyptians are very sceptical of [giving money to] Hamas for one reason," he said.