Despite previous reports saying Hamas is willing to accept Egypt's proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza, the group's representative Salah Bardawil said at a press conference in Cairo Wednesday that the group still had reservations regarding the initiative.
"We will try to achieve our objectives in any way possible, in order to end the aggression, lift the siege and open the crossings," he stated.
"The Egyptian proposal is the only plan that has been presented to us," said Bardawil. "We have presented our vision and hope it will materialize."
Bardawil said that what Hamas demanded from "the Zionist enemy" is to lift the siege on Gaza, halt the aggression, pull out all Israeli forces from the Strip and open the border crossings.
The official added that Hamas expressed its reservations to the Egyptians, who were expected to convey them to Israel.
It appears that the group's statement was deliberately ambiguous, in order to leave room for flexibility in the negotiations. However, it notably lacked the militant tone of Hamas' recent messages.
Jerusalem: Operation in Gaza continues
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak convened Wednesday evening to discuss Israel's stance regarding the ceasefire talks. Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad is scheduled to leave for Cairo on Thursday and present the Israeli position to Egyptian officials.
A senior Jerusalem official said following the meeting that the three leaders did not discuss Hamas' recent statements on the truce proposal, and that the operation in Gaza continues.
Earlier Wednesday another senior Hamas official, Rafaat Nassif, said that the group would not agree to have the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt destroyed. "We reject any attempt to undermine the resistance or any commitment that would undermine the resistance," he said.
"As long as the occupation exists, so will the resistance," Nassif declared in a phone interview to al-Arabiya television network.
Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, whose nation has been instrumental in ceasefire talks, said he had received Hamas' latest proposal and would convey it to the Israelis. Without revealing details, he indicated an agreement was near and a Hamas spokesman said the militant group had "no other choice."
Roni Sofer contributed to the report