Israel, Hamas agree to Egyptian ceasefire initiative

Egyptian foreign ministry statement offers to host senior delegations from both sides, urges Israel, PA, and Gaza factions to begin truce at 8 am.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet ministers late Monday night that he had agreed to a three-day ceasefire with Hamas starting at 8 am Tuesday morning.



On the opposing side, Hamas' spokesperson announced just after midnight that the organization had also decided to accept the initiative which stipulates that further discussions will take place in Cairo to try and reach a permanent agreement.


Al Arabiya reported earlier Monday night that Israel told US Secretary of State John Kerry that it "was prepared to withdraw from the Gaza Strip unconditionally if there is a lull."


Economy Minister Naftali Bennett (Bayit Yehudi) expressed firm opposition to the temporary truce. The cabinet minister said: "Let's hope Hamas doesn't make fools of us again by firing during the ceasefire."


Political sources in Jerusalem said Monday night that, "Israel supports the Egyptian initative, Israel wanted a ceasefire without preconditions; today the tunnel demolition was completed."


The sources emphasized that Israel remains "prepared for the possibility that the ceasefire would be broken." They called on Israelis to maintain vigilance, "given the attempts to launch attacks before the ceasefire comes into effect."


Before the spokesperson's confirmation, a source affiliated with Hamas had said that the Gaza-based terror organization "was leaning towards accepting the Egyptian offer for a 72-hour ceasefire."


The Egyptian foreign ministry announced the initiative in a statement Monday saying, "Out of concern for innocent lives and to prevent further bloodshed, Egypt calls on Israel and the Palestinian Authority and all the Palestinian factions to cease fire for a renewable period of 72 hours starting at 8 am."


Egypt also said that it was prepared to host senior delegations from both sides to implement the Egyptian initative. In the statement Cairo expressed a hope that its initative will be the basis for a long-term ceasefire and a return to stability for the region.


Deputy chief of Islamic Jihad, Ziad Nakhleh, said earlier Monday that a "ceasefire was likely to be declared in the coming hours" and called on "resistance soldiers to fight until the last moment." Hamas also joined Islamic Jihad's announcement saying it believed that a ceasefire would be declared soon.


A senior Hamas official abroad, Ali Baraka said "the ball is now in Israel's court. The Palestinian delegation concluded in its meeting with (Egyptian intelligence chief) al-Tohami that Egypt will invest significant efforts against Israel to declare a ceasefire within the next day."


At the same time, the military wing of Islamic Jihad said there would be an escalation in its "resistance activities" in the following hours until Israel responds to its demands.


Hints that a ceasefire may take place were originally reported when sources in Cairo told Lebanese news network Al Mayadeen that, "Tonight, it is possible that a ceasefire will be declared after international and regional efforts on Egypt's behalf."


A security cabinet minister told Ynet that the reports from Egypt, "sound good. If they cease fire without conditions and without prior commitments from Israel, it shows that they want to end the fighting. It exposes their will in a public manner."


Elior Levy and Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report.


פרסום ראשון: 08.04.14, 19:52
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