Sunday, February 3, 2008

Tekoa rabbi drafts Israel-Gaza cease-fire agreement, deal for Shalit

Contributed by Lucia in Spain

"Israelis and Palestinians involved in interfaith contacts recently drafted a cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas. The document, whose implementation includes the release of abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, was submitted to the cabinet and to the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.

Rabbi Menachem Froman of the West Bank settlement of Tekoa has for years been involved in interfaith dialogue toward Israeli-Palestinians peace. For several months he has been working closely with Khaled Amayreh, a Hebron-area journalist who is close to Hamas.

"Our proposal was presented to the highest political echelon in the Hamas government in Gaza and gained 100-percent approval," Amayreh told Haaretz yesterday, while refusing to name the government officials. Froman said the document was presented to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has yet to respond to it.

Even if the attempt turns out to be merely an academic exercise, say Froman and Amayreh, its elements could be used by the Jerusalem and Gaza governments. It does not, for example, include the recognition by Hamas of the State of Israel, instead "recognizing that there are Jews living in the Holy Land," according to Froman.

The Hebrew and Arabic document contains verses from the Koran and the Bible and states, "God is the greatest of all and He alone can bring an end to the problems between the noble Palestinian people and the distinguished Jewish people in the Holy Land."

The proposal calls for Israel to lift its sanctions on the Gaza Strip, permit economic relations between Gaza and the outside world and open all border crossings. The Israel Defense Forces would end "all hostile activities toward the Gaza Strip, including targeted assassinations, the setting of ambushes, aerial bombardments and all penetrations into Gazan territory, in addition to ending the arrest, detention and persecution of Palestinians in the Strip."

The Palestinians would be obligated "to take all the necessary steps to completely end the attacks against Israel," including stopping "indefinitely all rocket attacks on Israel," assaults "on Israeli civilians and soldiers" and "to impose a cease-fire on all groups, factions and individuals operating in the Strip." "

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