The Egyptian brokered ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas is nearly completed, the London based Al-Hayat Arabic language daily reported Thursday. According to the report, the deal needs a few minor revisions before being finalized, but Egypt has obtained Israel’s agreement and an exchange of documents between the sides is underway.
According to the report, prominent Hamas leader Saleh al Arouri will sign on behalf of Hamas. Once Egypt has obtained his signature in Cairo, an Egyptian delegation will set out for Israel to obtain the Israeli signature and necessary guarantees. After both sides have signed, an announcement will be made to publicize the terms of the agreement and implementation will commence. The deal is set to apply for a period of one year, after which it would be automatically extended for an additional four years.
Al-Hayat also quoted a Palestinian source as saying that the deal is set to include Israel’s lifting of the economic blockade on Gaza, the creation of a maritime route between Cyprus and Gaza, as well as steps to re-open the Yasser Arafat International Airport in the Strip, which ceased operations in 2001, when Israel destroyed it’s runways at the outset of the Al-Aqsa Intifada.
A prisoner swap is also expected, with Hamas set to release the remains of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in Gaza in 2014, as well as two Israeli civilians being held by Hamas – Avraham Abera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed. In exchange, Israel will free Palestinians released in the 2011 Gilad Shalit deal, who were taken back into custody in 2014 after Hamas abducted and murdered three Israeli teenagers.
While Al-Hayat reports that the prisoner exchange will be included in the deal, the Lebanese based Al-Akhbar newspaper reported Monday, that the talks between the sides were at a standstill following Israel’s insistence to include the release of the prisoners held by Hamas in the deal.