Gaza's ruling Hamas will not stop arming itself, the No. 2 in the Palestinian group told the AP today, signaling tough challenges ahead for indirect negotiations between Israel and the Islamist militants on a new border deal for Gaza. The talks are being brokered by Egypt, which also helped forge a cease-fire deal that ended eight days of Israel-Gaza fighting earlier this week. The truce went into effect late Wednesday and has largely held. Residents in Gaza said Israel has begun easing some border restrictions, allowing fishermen to head further out to sea and permitting farmers inspect land in a former no-go zone.
Moussa Abu Marzouk, deputy to Hamas' top leader in exile Khaled Mashaal, said talks on a further easing of restrictions are to be held in Cairo on Monday through Egyptian intermediaries. An Israeli security official has said Israel would likely link a significant easing of Gaza's border blockade to Hamas' willingness to stop arming itself. However, Abu Marzouk rejected such demands. "These weapons protected us and there is no way to stop obtaining and manufacturing them," he said in an interview at his office on the outskirts of Cairo. See more here.