Hamas sends mixed signals on cease-fire

Hamas issued contradictory signals on cease-fire talks.

Reports in Arab media on Friday said the group was close to accepting Israel’s term for the Gaza Strip cease-fire, including an end to rocket attacks and weapons smuggling, and was ready to cede control of the crossing into Egypt to the relatively moderate West Bank-based Palestinian Authority.

Israeli spokesmen confirmed that a cease-fire agreement negotiated in Cairo under Egyptian auspices was "close."

Amod Gilad, the Defense Ministry’s top diplomat, returned to Cairo Friday to continue talks.

Israel’s main objection is to Hamas’ demand for a one-year cease-fire; Israel wants it to be open-ended.

However, Khaled Meshaal, the group’s Damascus-based leader, said Hamas would not accept Israel’s cease-fire terms and called on Arab nations to cut ties with Israel. Meshaal was speaking in Doha, Qatar at an emergency summit of Arab nations on the Gaza war.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia snubbed the summit; Syria backed Hamas’ call on nations to cut off ties with Israel, and Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, made a surprise appearance. Iran, which rejects Israel’s existence, backs Hamas.

Israel launched major operations on Dec. 27 after Hamas ended a fragile cease-fire with a massive intensification of rocket attacks.
 

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