Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) told US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday that his proposal for a week long cease-fire of Israel's Gaza campaign was "completely unacceptable" and that it "would have strengthened extremists in the region."
The justice minister told Israel Radio on Sunday that over the course of the day on Friday, Kerry's proposal had improved.
By Friday afternoon, just before Shabbat, the security cabinet unanimously rejected Kerry's proposal which the ministers believed did not sufficiently ensure either continued Israeli activity against the Gaza terror tunnels or dismantling the rocket infrastructure, while giving Hamas significant concessions regarding lifting the blockade around the coastal enclave.
While Kerry said during a Cairo press conference Friday afternoon that the proposal was based on a previous Egyptian cease-fire agreement, Israeli officials said that included too many elements of a Qatari and Turkish proposal, which leaned more favorably toward Hamas.
On Saturday, Kerry flew to Paris to continue the ceasefire talks with his Qatari and Turkish counterparts, as well as with the German, French, British and Italian foreign ministers.
At a press conference before leaving for Washington in the evening he said that while the Palestinians “need to live with dignity” and “with goods that can come in and out,” at the same time “Israelis need to live free from rockets and from tunnels that threaten them, and every conversation we’ve had embraces a discussion about these competing interests that are real for both.”
The tunnels, Kerry said, “have to be dealt with. We understand that; we’re working at that. By the same token, the Palestinians can’t have a cease-fire in which they think the status quo is going to stay and they’re not going to have the ability to be able to begin to live and breathe more freely and move within the crossings and begin to have goods and services that come in from outside.”
On Saturday Israel agreed to a 12 hour humanitarian cease-fire that began at 8 a.m. At midnight, Israel agreed to a UN request for an additional humanitarian truce of 24 hours to end at Sunday at midnight, but after rocket attacks from Gaza on Sunday morning Israel resumed its offensive.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.