Israel’s diplomatic and security cabinet met late Monday night to discuss the
latest cease-fire initiatives with Hamas, as international leaders continued to
press for an end to the hostilities in Gaza.
The government agreed to
briefly hold off on sending ground forces into Gaza in order to allow time for
cease-fire efforts in Cairo to continue, an Israeli official told The Jerusalem
Post on Monday.
“Israel prefers a diplomatic solution,” the official
said, but added that any agreement must provide a real solution that would erase
the threat of rocket attacks against the South.
If such a diplomatic
solution is not found, then Israel is preparing its ground forces to enter Gaza,
the official said.
US President Barack Obama called Egyptian President
Mohamed Morsi to underscore the necessity of ending Hamas rocket fire into
Israel, and to talk about ways to de-escalate the situation.
spoke with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, his third conversation with the
prime minister since Operation Pillar of Defense was launched last
In both calls, Obama said he regretted the loss of Israeli and
In the middle of the afternoon, it appeared that Hamas
and Israel were close to a deal, and that Hamas and Islamic Jihad had made a
cease-fire offer to Israel.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrived in
Cairo on Monday, in hopes of helping both sides reach a cease-fire deal. He is
expected to arrive in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
Mashaal: Netanyahu, not Hamas asked for a cease-fire
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal
claimed on Monday that Netanyahu had asked for a cease-fire in the Gaza
“Netanyahu was the one who requested a cease-fire from the
Americans, Egypt and the Europeans,” Mashaal told reporters in Cairo. “We were
not the ones to ask for a ceasefire.”
Addressing Netanyahu, the Hamas
leader said, “Gaza is not the weak chapter for your adventures.
won’t be a testing ground for you. He who started the war should end it. This is
the position of the political and military [Hamas] leadership.”
boasted that Hamas and other armed groups in the Gaza Strip managed to achieve a
balance of power with Israel within 48 hours after the assassination of Ahmed
Jabari, the commander of Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam.
accused Netanyahu of ordering the IDF to target Hamas-affiliated institutions
and media outlets “to cover up for his crimes,” and said that while Netanyahu
had succeeded in killing Jabari, “he has failed to restore his army’s deterrence
An official in the Prime Minister’s Office denied Mashaal’s
claim that Netanyahu had asked for a cease-fire.
“We have been hitting
Hamas very hard,” the official said.
He explained that Israel had
attacked Hamas’s weapons arsenal, leadership, buildings and communication
apparatus from the air.
“Hamas is under a lot of pressure and as a
result, they are saying many things that are in no way connected to reality,” he
In Monday’s speech, Mashaal warned Israel against launching a
ground offensive on the Gaza Strip, adding that such a move would be “idiotic.”
The ground war would not be a picnic, he cautioned.
“Rather, it will bury
Netanyahu politically. We are not afraid of a ground war. If the enemy launches
a ground attack, we will face it with courage,” the Hamas leader
Mashaal said that discussions to achieve a cease-fire were
continuing, “but Hamas won’t succumb to Israel’s conditions.”
pointed out, was not opposed to a truce and is continuing to insist on the need
to lift the blockade on the Gaza Strip and halt Israeli military
“Netanyahu wants to negotiate with us with gunfire in order to
impose his conditions on us,” Mashaal said.
He also criticized the US
administration, accusing it of double standards in dealing with the current
“What kind of a logic is this that says that Israel alone has
the right to self-defense?” Mashaal asked.
Ezat Risheq, a senior Hamas
official, said Monday that his movement would not accept a cease-fire “at any
price.” He claimed that Israel was in a state of “panic” because of the response
of the Palestinian armed groups to the killing of Jabari.
Hamas’s conditions for accepting a cease-fire were the lifting of the blockade
and international assurances that Israel would stop its military operations in
Israel, in turn, wants a security zone around the Gaza border
and an end to the smuggling of weapons into the Strip.
Peres praises Morsi for cease-fire efforts
envoy Tony Blair told President Shimon Peres that Egypt, Qatar, America and the
UN were working to put in place a cease-fire.
Peres said that he
appreciated efforts by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to end the
“Egypt is a significant player in the Middle East.
Strangely, it is Hamas that doesn’t listen to the Egyptian president,” he
Peres accused Iran of pressuring Hamas to continue the conflict,
saying that Tehran is supplying Hamas “with arms, training them and sending them
On Monday night, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle
arrived in Israel on Monday night, where he met with Netanyahu and Foreign
Minister Avigdor Liberman, before heading to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian
Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
On Sunday, French Foreign Minister
Laurent Fabius similarly held meetings in Jerusalem and Ramallah to discuss the
options for a Gaza cease-fire.
Russia on Monday urged an end to
Palestinian rocket attacks and what it called disproportionate Israeli bombing
of the Gaza Strip, and said it may propose a UN Security Council resolution on
“We again affirm our position on the inadmissibility of
firing at Israeli regions and of disproportionate strikes on Gaza,” the Russian
Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Moscow considers it necessary to stop the
military confrontation without delay.”
Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly
Churkin said Moscow may propose a Security Council resolution that would
envisage ceasing violence on both sides before the resumption of peace talks,
news agencies reported.
Turkey's Erdogan accuses Israel of terrorism
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan accused
Israel on Monday of carrying out “terrorist acts” in its bombardment of
“Those who associate Islam with terrorism close their eyes in the
face of mass killing of Muslims, turn their heads from the massacre of children
in Gaza,” Erdogan told a conference of the Eurasian Islamic Council in
“For this reason, I say that Israel is a terrorist state, and
its acts are terrorist acts.”
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuloglu is
expected to visit Gaza this week, possibly as early as Tuesday.
contributed to this report.