Israel conditionally accepts cease-fire Egyptian-French proposal?

January 7, 2009

GAZA CITY, Gaza – Israel has indicated it may be interested in an Egyptian-French ceasefire proposal for Gaza as long as such a deal guarantees a halt to militant rockets and weapons smuggling. However both Israel and Hamas appeared to seek guarantees about the details of a cease-fire, before agreeing to halt the fighting.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said in Paris that both Israel and the moderate Palestinian leadership in charge of the West Bank had accepted the truce proposal, in a possible sign that a bloody 12-day offensive could be winding down. But Israeli officials have not confirmed and Hamas, for its part, said it would only support a deal if it included an opening of Gaza’s borders. The precise details of the Egyptian-French proposal remain unclear. However Israel said it would support the proposal only if it halts “hostile fire” from Hamas in Gaza and includes measures to prevent the militant group from rearming, said government spokesman Mark Regev.

With criticism rising of the operation’s spiraling civilian death toll Israel’s military said it would open “humanitarian corridors” to allow aid supplies to reach Palestinians. Israel’s military scaled back attacks in Gaza for three hours Wednesday to allow food and fuel to reach besieged Palestinians. A Damascus-based Hamas leader told Al-Arabiya TV that militants would not fire rockets during the lull, but said that did not mean the group was accepting a cease-fire. International Mideast envoy Tony Blair said Tuesday the key to any cease-fire will be an arrangement to stop weapons smuggling over the Gaza-Egypt border.

In Turkey, meanwhile, a diplomat said that country will be given the task of constructing an international force for Gaza. He said the responsibilities of the force were yet to be determined.


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