Photo: AP
Hamas appears likely to accept a temporary ceasefire drafted by John Kerry.
Photo: AP

Foreign Ministers pushing for Israel-Gaza truce: 'Extend current ceasefire'

12-hour humanitarian ceasefire to last until 8pm during which IDF continues operations in the Gaza Strip to find and destroy smuggling tunnels.

PARIS - Foreign ministers from seven nations on Saturday called for an extension of the 12-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.



"All of us call on the parties to extend the military ceasefire that is currently underway," Fabius told reporters after a gathering that included the foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Qatar, Turkey and the United States.


An EU official also attended the meeting at the French foreign ministry.


A 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip officially went into effect at 8am Saturday morning, opening a short window of time for diplomats and negotiators to push for a deal drafted by Kerry that would put into effect a week-long ceasefire agreement.


As a part of Kerry's deal, representatives from both sides of the conflict, and other foreign nations, would sit down in an attempt to hammer out a permanent truce.


Kerry also met on Saturday with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Paris, officials said, to continue crafting a more substantial ceasefire proposal.


Meanwhile, a Saturday morning report in Asharq Al-Awsat suggested that Hamas may be inclined to accept Kerry's week-long ceasefire proposal, out of the desire to allow the people of Gaza to rest during the end of Ramadan, or Eid al-Fitr.


However, senior officials told the newspaper that Hamas is seeking further clarification of the specifics of guarantees including in the deal. Namely, the organization reportedly wants solidfy a time-frame in which Israel would lift the siege of Gaza.


It is worth noting that the first to announce the ceasefire was Kerry, in his Cairo speech on Friday. Later in the day Hamas also confirmed the deal. However, Israeli officials were reluctant to confirm the reports, and the Prime Minister's Office chose not to inform the Israeli public regarding their position. Only at 2:21 am Saturday did the IDF Spokesperson Unit let out a official press release confirm the ceasefire will come into effect.


Israel, which began its offensive on July 8, on Friday rejected international proposals for an extended ceasefire, a government source said. But Kerry said in Cairo that no formal proposals had yet been put forward.


He said there were still disagreements on the terminology, but he was confident there was a framework that would ultimately succeed and that "serious progress" had been made, although there was more work to do.


Many Israeli government officials have expressed opposition to a ceasefire unless it includes the demilitarization of Gaza and the destruction of the smuggling tunnels dug over the years by Hamas and used to store weapons as well as to launch terror attacks in Israel.


Hamas, on the other hand, has said that they wouldn't accept a deal that did not include the lifting of the siege on Gaza, the opening of the land crossings into the territory, and an expansion of fishing rights.


Reuters contributed to this report.


פרסום ראשון: 07.26.14, 07:57
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