PA says Gaza factions agree to 72-hour truce; Hamas denies

PA says Hamas, Islamic Jihad agree to temporary humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza fighting, but Khaled Mashal's right-hand man denies the announcement.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has called on Israel and warring Gaza terror factions to declare a 1-day ceasefire in Gaza fighting for humanitarian reasons. A senior Hamas official, Izzat Al Risheq – considered to be Khaled Mashal's right-hand man, denied the PA's announcement, saying: "As of now, there is no internal agreement among the Palestinians for a 72-hour break."



However, PA official Yasser Abed Rabbo said Tuesday that, "Khaled Mashal agreed to the Palestinian Authority's ceasefire proposal," leaving the situation largely unclear.


The PA claimed it had received assurance from the Hamas and Islamic Jihad that they would agree to a calm which would last 24 hours with a possibility of extending them by another 48 hours.


On Monday, the head of Hamas' political bureau phoned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the two spoke about ways in which a reach a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip according to official Palestinian media sources.


Abbas also received a phone call from the leader of the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization. At the same time, the Palestinian president spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who said, "The Egyptian proposal is the best option for resolving this crisis."


Recent ceasefire efforts have pitted Israel against the US, with some in Israel claiming the US has been pressuring Israel to accept a ceasefire deal, despite the fact that Hamas had breached previous breaks in fighting.


The Obama administration pushed back strongly Monday at a torrent of Israeli criticism over Secretary of State John Kerry's latest bid to secure a cease-fire with Hamas, accusing some in Israel of launching a "misinformation campaign" against the top American diplomat.


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"It's simply not the way partners and allies treat each other," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.


Her comments were echoed by the White House, where officials said they were disappointed by Israeli reports that cast Kerry's efforts to negotiate a cease-fire as more favorable to Hamas.


"Israel has no better friend, no stronger defender than John Kerry," said Tony Blinken, President Barack Obama's deputy national security adviser. He said the criticism of Kerry was based on "people leaking things that are either misinformed or attempting to misinform."


The coordinated pushback came amid growing US frustration with the number of Palestinian civilian casualties as Israel wages an air and ground war in the Gaza Strip. Obama and Kerry have been pressing Israel to accept an immediate and unconditional humanitarian cease-fire.


The US has made little progress in achieving that objective. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised speech Monday that his country must be ready for "a prolonged campaign" against Hamas in Gaza.


As Kerry returned from the region over the weekend, Israeli media commentators leveled almost nonstop criticism of his attempts to bring Qatar and Turkey — two countries viewed by Israel as strong Hamas supporters — into the cease-fire negotiations. Kerry was also accused of abandoning some of Israel's key demands during the negotiations, including demilitarizing Gaza.


Former Israeli Ambassador to US Michael Oren told Ynet that Israel need not immediately launch a ceasefire as demanded by the US.


"The continuance of IDF's presence in Gaza is an additional mean to put pressure on Hamas," he said. "You mustn't ignore President Barack Obama's arguments, but it doesn’t mean Israel needs to comply immediately with Obama's demands. We may be at the beginning of the end, but this not the end yet," said Oren.


The French, American, German, English and Italian leaders said Monday during a telephone interview that they will "increase" the "pressure" to achieve a cease-fire in Gaza, according to a statement from Paris.


"The pressure must increase to achieve" a ceasefire, agreed Barack Obama, US president, Angela Merkel, German Chancellor, David Cameron, British Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, Italian Prime Minister and François Hollande, the French president.


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday that the obstacle to ending fighting between Israel, Islamist Hamas militants and Palestinians in Gaza Strip was "political will."


"It's a matter of their political will. They have to show their humanity as leaders, both Israeli and Palestinian," Ban told reporters. "Why these leaders are making their people to be killed by others? It's not responsible, (it's) morally wrong."


Elior Levy, Attila Somfalvi and the Associated Press contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 07.29.14, 15:29
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