Diplomats hatch plans to allow return of secular Fatah faction in Gaza

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London, Jan 10 (ANI): Diplomats are considering a plan to create a new foothold in Gaza for the Palestinian Authority and to bring in international monitors, following the rejection of the UN ceasefire call by Israel and Hamas.

The plan would allow a return of the authority, led by the secular Fatah faction, to the territory 18 months after the Islamist Hamas expelled it, The Times reported.

Diplomats are considering taking a triangle at the southern end of Gaza, including the Rafah crossing to Egypt and the Kerem Shalom crossing to Israel, to be policed by Turkish and French military monitors to stop arms smuggling into Gaza.

The Palestinian authority, and the internationally recognised Government would nominally control the zone. Such a plan would allow the crossings to reopen for the first time since Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007.

The plan is being negotiated as part of the Egyptian peace initiative, announced by President Hosni Mubarak after talks with French President Sarkozy, which calls for an immediate ceasefire to be followed by talks on securing the Gaza-Egypt border and reopening the crossings.

Diplomats said on Friday that the Egyptian efforts were getting bogged down because of disagreements over how to secure the border.

Hamas has said it would consider allowing observers at the border crossings with Egypt, but opposes an international force. It also claimed yesterday that a delegation of three Hamas leaders had crossed the border into Egypt to join talks.

Israel, however, is insisting on a robust international force to destroy smuggling tunnels under the border. (ANI)

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