Suleiman expected here next week

Egyptian Intelligence chief to present Israel with truce proposal; Hamas threatens Israel to comply.

Barak Suleiman 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Barak Suleiman 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman is scheduled to visit Israel next week for talks on Cairo's efforts to achieve a cease-fire between the Palestinians and Israel, an Egyptian diplomat confirmed Thursday. Suleiman would brief government officials on his efforts to achieve a temporary truce, first in the Gaza Strip and later in the West Bank, the diplomat told The Jerusalem Post. "Gen. Suleiman will convey to Israel the position of the Palestinian factions vis-a-vis the Egyptian initiative for a truce," the diplomat said, adding that Hamas and all the Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip had accepted the proposal. Suleiman is expected to urge Israel to accept the initiative and to halt its military operations against Hamas and other Palestinian groups, according to the diplomat. "Egypt's efforts have been successful," he said. "We have managed to persuade all the Palestinian groups to agree to a six-month truce, first in the Gaza Strip and later in the West Bank. There's no reason why Israel should not accept the initiative." Egypt had made it clear it was planning to reopen the Rafah border crossing between Sinai and Gaza in the coming weeks, after the Palestinians agreed to the truce proposal, the diplomat said. "The ball is now in the Israeli court," he added. "If Israel does not accept the proposal, the situation will deteriorate." Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar warned on Thursday that Israel would not enjoy stability and security unless it accepted the Egyptian initiative. He also said Hamas would not discuss kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Schalit until Israel lifted the blockade on the Gaza Strip. "The lives of millions of Israelis will be at stake unless Israel accepts the Egyptian proposal and removes the blockade," he said. "We hope our brothers in Egypt will reopen the Rafah border crossing in the near future because there is no justification for its continued closure." Zahar claimed that Israel had initiated the truce by asking Egypt to mediate with Hamas. "The Egyptians are very keen on achieving a truce because they are worried about their national security," he said. "They don't want a repetition of the events that happened along the border with the Gaza Strip earlier this year," he said, in a reference to Hamas's breach of the Sinai border on January 23. Hundreds of thousands of Gazans poured into Egypt during the next 12 days.