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Image: Reuters

What do the Israelis and Palestinians want?

Kersten Knipp / slk
August 7, 2014

In Cairo, Israeli and Palestinian delegates are currently negotiating an extension of the Gaza cease-fire. DW takes a look at the demands that each side has brought to the negotiating table.


What are Israel's demands?

Israel is demanding an end to rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. The coastal enclave should be demilitarized and Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups should be disarmed. In addition, Hamas should be prevented from building new tunnels into Israel. This would be accomplished by strictly controlling the import of cement. But cement is also needed to rebuild the many destroyed homes in Gaza.

EU observers should help control imports into the Gaza Strip by monitoring the border crossings. There's also been discussion of allowing the Palestinian Authority's moderate president, Mahmoud Abbas, to station some of his security forces on Gaza's borders.

Israel wants to prevent Hamas from rearming to prevent a new round of violence in the near future. In April 2001, Hamas militants fired homemade Qassam rockets at Israeli territory for the first time. Since then, the residents of southern Israel have lived under constant threat. In the meantime, Hamas has managed to increase the range of its rockets to 70 kilometers, which puts Tel Aviv under threat.

Most of the tunnels are said to have been destroyedImage: DAVID BUIMOVITCH/AFP/Getty Images

What are the Palestinians' demands?

Palestinian negotiators have several demands. One of the most important : End the blockade of Gaza. The Israeli blockade against the Gaza Strip was imposed in 2007, after the Islamist group Hamas defeated the secular Fatah party in the enclave's elections.

In 2008, the United Nations reported that its depots in Gaza had run out of flour as a result of the blockade. At the same time, the import of building material was forbidden. Israel justified the ban by arguing that Hamas would use the material to build tunnels. Such tunnels are often used to smuggle weapons into Gaza and sneak Palestinian militants into Israel.

In 2010, Israel cleared all non-military goods for export to Gaza. Two years later, the Jewish state allowed construction material for private purposes to be imported into the coastal enclave.

Lift the sea blockade

Israeli soldiers walk through sand
Israeli troops leave GazaImage: GIL COHEN MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images

The Palestinians are demanding the construction of their own port. Israel has blocked all sea routes into Gaza, and international aid can reach the enclave only through the Israeli port of Ashdod. From there, the aid is transported across land to Gaza. Israel has banned the construction of a Palestinian port out of fear that it could be used for weapons deliveries.

The Palestinians also want to build their own airport. In addition, they are demanding an expansion of the fishing zone off the coast of Gaza. Under the Oslo Accords, the Gaza fishing zone was fixed at 20 nautical miles. But since 2009, Palestinians can fish only five miles off the coast, which has led to a collapse in income and overfishing in the small area. The fishing zone was subsequently expanded to six nautical miles and then reduced again to three miles last June, after a rocket was fired from Gaza.

Release of Palestinian prisoners

Hamas is demanding the release of dozens of its members who were detained immediately prior to the outbreak of this summer's war in Gaza. Many of the prisoners in question have done stints in Israeli jails before. But in 2011, they were released in exchange for the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit before being detained again this year.

fishermen at sea
Gaza's fishermen face hard timesImage: DW/Shawgy Al-Farra

In 2012, Amnesty International estimated that 4,500 Palestinians were detained in Israeli jails. At least 178 of them were being held in administrative detention without charge or trial, according to Amnesty. Administrative detention was originally instituted by the British authorities who occupied Palestine from 1920-1948, and the practice was subsequently adopted by the Israelis. The practice allows for people to be detained for an unlimited period of time without charge or trial, as long as a judge renews the detention every six months.

Reconstruction of Gaza

It's currently unclear who will finance the reconstruction of Gaza. A conference of donor states is scheduled to meet in Norway this September. The Palestinians estimate that the Israeli military offensive caused $5 billion in damage. But Israeli estimates are much lower. It's almost certain that the Arab Gulf states will contribute financially to the reconstruction. But in the past, many promises of aid were not kept.

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