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Efforts at cease-fire linger on
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH,HERB KEINON
08/25/2014
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri says that despite efforts, “until now, there is nothing final”; Islamic Jihad official says Palestinians waiting for Israel’s response to proposal they agreed to.
 
Israeli officials stressed Monday evening that as long as Hamas continues firing rockets and mortars there will be no “Cairo cease-fire process,” even as the terror group said efforts were carrying on to reach an agreement.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that despite the ongoing efforts, “until now, there is nothing final.”

Another Hamas official, Izzat al-Risheq, also said there is still “nothing new” regarding a cease-fire. “Once there is a development, we will announce it.”

The Hamas statements came after Islamic Jihad’s representative to the Cairo cease-fire talks, Khaled al-Batsh, said he expects an agreement to be reached “in the coming hours.”

Batsh said in a statement early Monday that the armistice would be based on the 2012 understandings reached between Israel and the Palestinian groups, in addition to Egypt’s latest proposal for rebuilding the Gaza Strip and expanding the fishing zone for local fishermen.

Batsh said he and other Palestinian representatives were still in Cairo holding intensive contacts with the Egyptians about ways of reaching an agreement.

The Islamic Jihad official said the Palestinians were now waiting for Israel to agree to the latest Egyptian proposals.

He said the Palestinians haven’t heard yet of Saudi assurances regarding a truce, as published in some media outlets.

Israel is expected to be amenable to a proposal for an unconditional cease-fire of a prolonged duration, but not another 24-hour or 72-hour compromise. It will also insist that the rehabilitation of Gaza be linked to preventing Hamas from rearming, and to the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip.

In addition, Israel and the US are reportedly coordinating positions regarding a UN Security Council resolution that would further cement an Egyptian cease-fire proposal.

Israeli officials said this type of resolution might be acceptable if it called for a truce without preconditions, called for the demilitarization of Gaza and condemned rocket fire on Israeli civilians.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki said PA President Mahmoud Abbas has issued instructions to make an effort to remove hindrances preventing the Palestinians from joining the International Criminal Court regarding possibly filing “war-crime” charges against Israel.

Malki said the ICC should investigate “crimes committed following the UN decision to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state.”

He said that after signing the Rome Statute, the “State of Palestine would become a member of the ICC, allowing it to demand an investigation into these crimes.”

Malki said Abbas was now seeking the approval of all Palestinian factions for his plan to join the ICC, noting that Hamas has agreed to the move.

The Palestinians have been threatening to go the ICC for years, with Israeli officials saying that one reason they have not done so up until now is the realization that this would open them up to prosecution on war crimes charges, as well.
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