|Khaled Mashaal meets Muhamed Mursi in Egypt.(Photo by: REUTERS)|
'Ceasefire unlikely in coming days, but progress made'
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH. TOVAH LAZAR
PLO official: Agreement will take several days.
A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is unlikely in the coming days, but negotiators made some progress, PLO official Nabil Shaath told Ma'an News Agency late Sunday night.
Earlier on Sunday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri announced that efforts to achieve a
cease-fire between his movement and Israel had failed.
Some Hamas officials said they did not rule out the
possibility that the Egyptians would succeed in reaching a deal to end the
violence in the next few hours or days, despite Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri’s
talk about the failure of the cease-fire talks.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal met in Cairo with Egyptian
President Mohamed Morsi and discussed with him ways of ending the current round
of fighting earlier in the evening.
Later, Morsi also met
with Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shallah and discussed with him the situation
in the Gaza Strip.
According to Ma'an, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is in direct contact with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on the talks.
Shaath also said Hamas was prepared to resume unity negotiations with Abbas's Fatah faction once the military conflict with Israel ended.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh phoned Morsi
Sunday and discussed with him the prospects of achieving a cease-fire, Hamas
officials in the Gaza Strip said.
The officials said that they were
unaware of the presence of an Israeli official in Cairo for talks on a
cease-fire. Israeli media had reported that an Israeli official was in Cairo for
Hamas has set two conditions for accepting a cease-fire:
lifting the military blockade on the Gaza Strip and international assurances
that Israel would stop assassinations and other military measures.
in turn demanded that Hamas and other terrorist groups stop smuggling weapons
into the territory and that Palestinians in Gaza refrain from approaching a
security zone by the border.
Israel has not officially confirmed
information on the Cairo talks. Officials have said that Hamas is looking to end
this round of hostilities, while Israel wants to end the threat of rockets and
create a new reality on the ground.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman
said Sunday Israel was open to discussing ways to de-escalate the conflict with
Gaza, but not while terror groups in the Strip continue to fire rockets at
“We are willing to consider all the suggestions offered by our
friends in the world,” Liberman said, “but the first and most important
condition is that terror organizations in Gaza must stop firing.
as they commit to stop firing, we are prepared to consider all proposals
As Israel prepared for the possibility of sending ground forces
into Gaza, international leaders scurried to the region in hopes of helping
broker a ceasefire agreement or at the very least de-escalating the
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon arrives in Egypt Monday for
talks with the Egyptian president and other officials, the Egyptian foreign
Ministry reported on Sunday. He is expected to travel from there to Jerusalem
Ban said that when he arrived he would personally appeal to
both sides to end the violence.
“I am deeply saddened by the reported
deaths of more than 10 members of the Dalu family, including women and children,
and additional Palestinian civilians killed as a result of the ongoing violence
in the Gaza strip,” he said.
He added that he was also alarmed by the
continued rocket attacks that have killed a number of Israelis.
must stop. I strongly urge the parties to cooperate with all efforts led by
Egypt to reach an immediate cease-fire. Any further escalation will inevitably
increase the suffering of the affected civilian populations and must be
avoided,” he said.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius was in the
region Sunday. He met with Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres,
Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Liberman.
“We must prevent war in the
long run, and arrange a cease-fire as soon as possible in the short run,” Fabius
“France is a peace-seeking nation; we maintain relations with
everyone and will do all in our power to assist in returning quiet to the
region,” Fabius said.
German Foreign Minister Guide Westerwelle will be
in Israel and the Palestinian territories Monday, as will the Quartet’s special
envoy Tony Blair.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu is also
expected to visit Gaza later this week.
Abu Zuhri said that Hamas and
Islamic Jihad were “fully coordinated” in their position regarding the
confrontation with Israel.
He was referring to reports that talked about
differences between the two parties over reaching a cease-fire with
According to the reports, Islamic Jihad was strongly opposed to a
cease-fire with Israel at this stage, while some Hamas political leaders have
asked the Egyptians and Qataris to help end the fighting.
But as the
Egyptians stepped up their efforts to end the fighting, Hamas’s armed wing
Izaddin Kassam vowed to continue launching rockets and missiles at Israel to
avenge the killing of Palestinians by the IDF on Sunday.
Sources in the
Gaza Strip said that Arab League Secretary- General Nabil Elarabi was expected
to visit Gaza City on Monday to express solidarity with the Palestinians against
the IDF offensive.
Elarabi will be accompanied by the foreign ministers
of Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, the sources
PA President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday dispatched top Fatah official
Nabil Shaath to the Gaza Strip to receive the Arab League
However, it was not clear whether Hamas would allow PA
Foreign Minister Riad Malki to enter the Gaza Strip together with the
Some Hamas activists expressed opposition to Malki’s
Abbas, meanwhile, called or an emergency Arab summit to discuss
ways of ending the Israeli “aggression” on the Gaza Strip.
In a televised
speech, the second of its kind in the past three days, Abbas said he has asked
his foreign minister to contact Arab governments to arrange a summit as soon as
Abbas repeated his charge that the IDF operation was aimed at
thwarting his plan to ask the UN General Assembly to upgrade the status of a
Palestinian state later this month.
He said that despite the current
round of fighting nothing would stop him from presenting his request to the UN
on November 29.
Abbas said he was in touch with Mashaal to find a way to
end the violence and end the Hamas-Fatah dispute.
Jerusalem Post Staff
and Reuters contributed to this report.