Egyptian officials confirmed Palestinian reports that a Gaza cease-fire deal between Israel and Palestinians would be announced in Egypt Tuesday at 8 p.m. (Israel time).
“An agreement has been reached between the two sides and we are awaiting the announcement from Cairo to determine the zero hour for implementation,” said Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri.
Cairo’s initiative, Palestinians officials said, called for an indefinite halt to seven weeks of hostilities, the immediate opening of Gaza’s blockaded crossings with Israel and Egypt and a widening of the enclave’s fishing zone in the Mediterranean.
Under a second stage that would begin a month later, Israel and the Palestinians would discuss the construction of a Gaza sea port and an Israeli release of Hamas prisoners in the West Bank, the officials said.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu declined to comment. A spokesman for the Palestinian Popular Resistance Committees, a group that, like Hamas, has been firing rockets into Israel, said an Egyptian announcement could be made within two hours.
Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk tweeted that the negotiations had ended and an understanding has been reached, “culminating in the resilience of our people and the victory of our resistance.”
Hamas leader in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh said earlier Tuesday that “we are approaching a diplomatic understanding that addresses the needs of our people.”
A senior Hamas official said earlier Tuesday that the new Egyptian cease-fire proposal to end the hostilities between the Palestinians and Israel in Gaza, was “acceptable” in terms of its language.
Abu Marzouk, a member of the Hamas delegation in Cairo, told the pan-Arabic newspaper Al Hayat that discussions were ongoing with the Egyptians over the details.
Khaled al-Batsh, Islamic Jihad’s representative to the Cairo cease-fire talks, said the Palestinian delegation was awaiting Israel’s response to the proposal, which was “acceptable in principle.”
Al Hayat quoted a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader as telling the paper that the group wanted the agreement to “stop the brutal aggression” and avoid the deaths of Palestinian children, adding that the Israelis had “targeted civilians to put pressure on the resistance.”
The official said Israel was “eager to reach an agreement” despite its “arrogance,” noting that senior Israeli officials had been involved in indirect talks. He added that the Egyptian proposal would strengthen the role of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, including by assisting in supervision of the Rafah crossing. He added that Israel had “failed to achieve its goals,” which were to “disarm the resistance and prevent tunnel construction.”
Israeli officials stressed on Monday evening that as long as Hamas continues firing rockets and mortars there will be no “Cairo cease-fire process,” even as the terror group said efforts were carrying on to reach an agreement.
The Islamic Jihad’s Batsh said in a statement early Monday that the armistice would be based on the 2012 understandings reached between Israel and the Palestinian groups, in addition to Egypt’s latest proposal for rebuilding the Gaza Strip and expanding the fishing zone for local fishermen.
Herb Keinon, Khaled Abu Toameh and Yasser Okbi contributed to this report.
via The Jerusalem Post