While Hamas leaders claim that no talks are being held on a renewal of the truce with Israel, Egyptian officials say they have stepped up the mediation efforts between Israel and the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip in order to try and broker another ceasefire in the area now that the Gaza truce has elapsed.Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit telephoned his Israeli counterpart Tzipi Livni on Monday morning and expressed his concern over the post-ceasefire situation in Gaza.
Livni told him the situation in southern Israel was escalating and made it clear that Israel has to defend its citizens and cannot remain indifferent in light of the situation. She added that Jerusalem still views Cairo as a mediator which may help calm the situation down.
Ynet reported Sunday that Livni and Israel's ambassadors around the world are preparing to launch a global effort in a bid to secure backing for the anticipated operation in the Gaza Strip.
The campaign is intended to create an 'international umbrella' of support for the intensification of military action against Hamas, and possibly prevent the passing of UN Security Council resolutions against Israel. The move was decided upon in a special meeting held Sunday evening by Livni with all the ministry brass in attendance.
Meanwhile, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Quds al-Arabi reported Monday that the Egyptian mediation efforts began on Saturday and are expected to continue until a new armistice is achieved.
"The new agreement can be better for the Palestinians, since it would include opening more of the Gaza crossings," said the report.
The newspaper went on to quote an Egyptian official as saying Palestinian Authority officials in the West Bank city of Ramallah have begun meeting with Egyptian official on the matter, and that Cairo is expected to invite the Gaza factions' delegates to negotiate the terms of the new ceasefire within days.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, added the report, are also expected to discuss the issue in their meeting scheduled for later this week.
Roee Nahmias contributed to this report