Hamas, Egypt: Gaza-Israel truce delayed by at least a day
Following reports of an imminent cease-fire, Hamas official says Egyptian efforts to broker a truce held up because the Israeli government has yet to respond to proposals; CNN: Egypt has no plans to announce truce yet.
By REUTERS, JPOST.COM STAFF, TOVAH LAZAROFF
LAST UPDATED: 11/20/2012 22:25
A Hamas official said on Tuesday night that Egyptian efforts to broker a truce with Israel had been held up because the Israeli government had yet to respond to proposals, indicating there would be no ceasefire until Wednesday at the earliest.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian government said that it had no plans to announce a cease-fire yet, CNN reported.
“The Israeli side has not responded yet, so we will not hold a (news) conference this evening and must wait until tomorrow,” Ezzat al-Rishq, a senior Hamas leader, told Reuters. “The truce is now held up because we are waiting for the Israeli side to respond,” he added in a short telephone interview.
The report came after Hamas official Ayman Taha said that the two sides had agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that would come into force at midnight local time. Reports from Jerusalem had also indicated that a cease-fire was imminent.
“An agreement for calm has been reached. It will be declared at 9 p.m. and go into effect at midnight,” Taha said earlier.
Prime Minister’s Office spokseman Mark Regev, however, told The Jerusalem Post “Until you’re there, you’re not there.”
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel would be “a willing partner to a long-term solution,” in a joint press conference with UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon in Jerusalem on Tuesday afternoon.
“If a long-term solution can be put in place through diplomatic means then Israel would be a willing partner to such a solution,” Netanyahu said, following talks with Ban. However, he stressed that Israel “will not hesitate to do what is necessary to defend our people.”
Earlier in the day, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said that “Israeli aggression” against Gaza would end later in the day, according to Egyptian state news agency MENA.
“The efforts to conclude a truce between the Palestinian and Israeli sides will produce positive results in the next few hours,” he was quoted as saying. Egypt has been trying to mediate a truce to end the conflict. The MENA story did not provide a direct quote.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman warned that if Israel sent ground forces into Gaza, their activity would not be limited, during a meeting with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon on Tuesday in Jerusalem. “This would not be “Operation Cast Lead 2,” but “Operation Defensive Shield 2,” Liberman said.
Ban arrived from Cairo, where he met with Liberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak before heading to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s office.
Liberman thanked Ban for supporting Israel’s right to defend itself and for his work to bring about a cease fire.
But he said, “public calls from the international community to refrain from [IDF] ground activity [in Gaza] strengthens Hamas and extends the conflict.”
He spoke in response to a statement Ban made earlier in Cairo.
“We all must recognize that Israel has legitimate security concerns that must be respected in accordance with international law,” he said.
But he warned, “a ground operation would be a dangerous escalation.”