Reports: Israel ready to accept Egypt-proffered cease-fire


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel is ready to accept an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire, multiple media reports said, although it is unclear whether Hamas also has agreed.

The cease-fire that would end the eight-day Gaza conflict was first posted Monday on Twitter by Yossi Melman, a veteran Israeli journalist, who cited Palestinian sources and who confirmed with Israeli officials that Israel would accept the terms.

Other journalists soon posted the text as well, citing various sources, including Egyptian officials.

A de-escalation of violence is to start at 9 a.m. local time to be followed by a full truce within 12 hours, according to the full text, which Melman provided JTA via email.

“Israel shall cease all hostilities against the Gaza Strip via land, sea, and air, and shall commit to refrain from conducting any ground raids against Gaza and targeting civilians,” the text said.

“All Palestinian factions in Gaza shall cease all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel via land, sea, air, and underground, and shall commit to refrain from firing all types of rockets, and from attacks on the borders or targeting civilians,” it said.

Following the cease-fire, talks about opening crossings between Gaza and Israel to allow more goods into the coastal strip would take place in Cairo, the text said. Cease-fire talks would be held by Egypt separately with both Israel and Hamas and other Palestinian factions.

The proposal comes hours before U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to arrive in Egypt to work to end the fighting between the two sides and two days after the U.N. Security Council called for a cease-fire in a non-binding statement.

“The Security Council members expressed serious concern regarding the crisis related to Gaza and the protection and welfare of civilians on both sides,” the statement said. “The Security Council members called for de-escalation of the situation, restoration of calm, and reinstitution of the November 2012 ceasefire. The Security Council members further called for respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.”

A U.S. official told JTA that the U.S. delegation consulted closely with Israel while conducting negotiations over the Security Council statement.

“In those discussions we supported Israel’s right to defend itself and worked with Israel on diplomatic efforts to resolve the ongoing crisis.” said the official who was authorized to speak only on background.

“No country should have to live under the constant threat of indiscriminate violence against innocent civilians,” the official said. “We support Israel’s right to defend itself against these attacks. That said, we remain concerned about the risk of further escalation and reiterate the need for all sides to do everything they can to protect the lives of civilians and restore calm.”

The foreign ministers of the Arab League also are scheduled to arrive in Cairo to discuss the hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel launched airstrikes a week ago after an intensification of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

Close to 200 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died in attacks on what Israel says are rocket launching and storage sites, as well as attacks on tunnels, military camps and Hamas officials.

No Israelis have been killed. Over 700 rockets have landed in Israel, reaching unprecedented distances as far north as Haifa’s southern suburbs and as far east as Jerusalem.

Egypt helped broker cease-fires in 2009 and 2012, but the current president, Abdel al-Sisi has poor relations with Hamas, and it is not clear he has the leverage to impose a cease-fire.

Melman said Sisi’s proposal came over “Hamas objections.” It is not clear yet whether the group will abide by it.

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