Rally for Gilad Shalit
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Egyptian source: Israel's statements not official stance

Narrow forum comprised of prime minister, defense minister and foreign minister to convene Sunday afternoon to discuss lull agreement, Shalit issue. Meanwhile, Cairo officials express anger over declaration that Israel won't agree to open crossings as long as kidnapped soldier remains in captivity

A truce agreement between Israel and Hamas will be signed in Cairo on Sunday or Monday, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat reported Sunday, quoting a senior Egyptian official.


According to the source, the declarations emerging from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office "are not considered an official (Israeli) stance (as far as Egypt is concerned)."


The Prime Minister's Office said Saturday that Israel would not agree to open the crossings to the Gaza Strip as long as kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit is not released.


"The crossings will not be opened without Shalit's release. All other talks on this issue are unnecessary. This is Israel's stance and it has been made clear to Egypt," Olmert's office said.


Meanwhile, Hamas' delegation to Cairo, led by deputy politburo chief Moussa Abu Marzouk, is continuing its meetings and waiting for Israel's official response to the Egypt's proposals in regards to a truce.


Egyptian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossam Zaki says that additional problems and demands are delaying the signing of a truce agreement.


Osama Hamdan, a Hamas representative in Lebanon, told al-Jazeera television that Israel's refusal to open the crossings unless Shalit is released was "a programmed operation to make the deal fail".


Hamdan said, "We consider that this kind of Israeli procrastination is for the aim of achieving more objectives and wasting more time and effort. But our position is still as it was, and what was agreed has to be implemented fully. Otherwise Israel will bear the consequences of any failure."


The prime minister is expected Sunday to convene the narrow forum consisted by himself, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, as well as the heads of the defense establishment, in order to discuss the situation in Gaza and the Shalit issue.


The meeting will also be attended by Minister Rafi Eitan, representatives of the Israel Defense Forces, Shin Bet and Mossad security organizations, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau Amos Gilad, and the prime minister's diplomatic advisor, Shalom Turgeman.


פרסום ראשון: 02.15.09, 09:39
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