'Good progress' in cease-fire talks

Egyptian FM: Plan would involve swapping 400 prisoners for Schalit, end to Kassams and IDF ops.

gheit 224 88 (photo credit: AP [file])
gheit 224 88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Egypt is making good progress in mediating a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, Reuters reported Friday. The Egyptian government is aiming for both sides to agree to a "period of quiet," said Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. Speaking of Egypt's attempts to assist in negotiation, Reuters reported that Gheit explained the reasons behind this wording to the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. "Hamas wants to call it a period of quiet. That suits the Israelis because they do not want to reach a signed, written agreement with Hamas," he said. The truce plan that Egypt is trying to broker has three elements, according to the Reuters report. The first is that Hamas must stop firing missiles into Israel, and Israel must agree not to target Palestinians in Gaza and cease "targeted killings, assassinations or what have you," said Gheit. Second, 400 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel would be swapped for captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. "Our information is that he is still alive," said Gheit of the Schalit. No further details were given. Allowing border crossings to be opened between Gaza and Israel is the third element, reported Reuters. "If the crossings are to be open, then we would ensure that the flow of goods, of people, of material and of everything is allowed and the Palestinians in Gaza will not feel deprived as they are right now," said the Egyptian foreign minister. The Reuters report stated that these talks involved only Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert - no Hamas representatives were present.