Hamas says Israel can't achieve calm without agreeing to cease-fire 'on our terms'

The Islamist group was responding to the Israeli cabinet’s decision early Saturday to refrain from sending a delegation to Cairo for cease-fire talks.

August 2, 2014 17:54
2 minute read.
Abdul Fattah al-Sisi

Egypt's President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi looks on as he delivers a speech in Cairo.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Responding to the Israeli cabinet’s decision early Saturday to refrain from sending a delegation to Cairo for cease-fire talks, Hamas said that any halt in fighting would have to be attained “on our terms.”

“If the enemy wants to enter indirect talks in parallel with a humanitarian cease-fire, the formula is ‘quiet in return for quiet’,” Hamas spokesperson Mushir al-Masri is quoted as saying by Channel 2.

“Our terms are clear,” the spokesperson said. “Our demands are clear. We want an overall calm that will meet the desires of the Palestinian people and take into account the victims. The enemy will not have security as long as there is no security for our people. Any unilateral withdrawal from Gaza [by Israel] is another scheme.”

Israel will not send envoys to Gaza truce negotiations in Egypt on Saturday as planned, an Israeli official said, accusing Hamas of misleading international mediators.

"Hamas is not interested in an accommodation," the official said on condition of anonymity.

An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire on Friday broke down within hours on Friday.

Hamas is responsible for the bloody, swift end to a humanitarian cease-fire with Israel, US President Barack Obama said from the White House on Friday, once again vowing to pursue a temporary truce along the border of Gaza that will end the killing.

"We have unequivocally condemned Hamas and the Palestinian factions that were responsible for killing two soldiers, and capturing a third, almost minutes after a ceasefire was announced," Obama said. "That soldier needs to be unconditionally released, as soon as possible."

Gazan militants emerged on Friday morning from a tunnel into Israeli territory, under deconstruction by the IDF, less than ninety minutes deep into a planned 72-hour cease-fire. One terrorist detonated a suicide vest, killing two Israeli soldiers; another abducted a third Israeli soldier, Hadar Goldin, back through the tunnel into Gaza.

Egypt's President Sisi says delays complicate Gaza cease-fire efforts

Egypt's President said on Saturday the ceasefire plan proposed by his country offered the chance to end the Gaza conflict, but warned that lost time further complicated matters.

"The Egyptian initiative is a real chance to find a real solution to the crisis taking place in the Gaza Strip," Abdel Fattah al-Sisi told a joint press conference in Cairo with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.

"Lost time ...complicates the situation more and more."

A Fatah delegation led by senior official Azzam Al-Ahmed will fly into Cairo from Jordan for talks, a Palestinian official in Ramallah said. Exiled officials from Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group will also join the negotiations.

But following a breakdown of the Friday truce, Hamas officials in Gaza will not attend.

Gaza officials say at least 1,654 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed since the Israeli offensive started on July 8. Sixty-three Israeli soldiers have died, and three civilians have been killed by Palestinian rockets in Israel.

Hamas leaders have said any Egypt-brokered deal must include an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza and called for Cairo to ease curbs at its Rafah crossing with Gaza imposed after the military ousted President Mohamed Morsi, an Islamist, a year ago.

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