Abbas asks France to lobby Hamas allies for ceasefire

July 19, 2014 - 6:35:38 am
A convoy of Israeli armoured personnel carriers move towards the Israeli-Gaza border yesterday.

CAIRO: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reached out for French help yesterday to lobby Hamas’s regional allies to influence it into accepting a truce with Israel, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

Egypt-mediated talks to end the escalating Gaza Strip war have faltered, with Hamas insisting on a comprehensive ceasefire that would end the Israeli blockade of the coastal enclave, Palestinian officials said.

Abbas asked France to lobby Hamas allies Qatar and Turkey to pressure the militants into accepting the truce, Fabius told reporters after meeting the Palestinian leader in Cairo.

He said he had called his Qatari counterpart after Abbas’ request and added he would also contact Ankara. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood from power last year, has sought to isolate Hamas allies and initially demanded that the militants unconditionally accept a truce to end the 11-day war, as Israel already had.

The truce stipulated a ceasefire first, followed by easing restrictions on border crossings and negotiations later — something Hamas says it cannot trust Israel to commit to. Cairo has worked instead to bolster the role of Abbas — its ally based in the West Bank and rival to Hamas — in reaching a deal to end the conflict which has killed at least 292 Palestinians since July 8. Egypt has also rejected demands by Hamas to involve Turkey and Qatar in the process, Palestinian officials said.

“We demand a complete agreement and the end of the siege. The Egyptians respond that Israel can’t accept this,” said a senior Hamas official. “Abbas asked me to contact the Turks and Qataris with whom we have good relations, because they themselves can exert a particular influence on Hamas,” Fabius said.

“There can be influences that I hope can let Hamas accept the ceasefire that it has refused,” Fabius said. Later he told reporters that he called Qatari Foreign Minister H E Khaled Al Attiyah.

“He said that in his view, Hamas hopes for there to be negotiation points before a ceasefire, especially relating to the blockade,” Fabius said.AFP

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