What you need to know about Egypt’s Israel-Gaza ceasefire proposal
Watch above: Egypt has proposed a ceasefire between Israel and factions in the Gaza Strip, following a week of heavy rocket fire from both sides. Eric Sorensen reports.
Egypt is trying to broker a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip after more than a week of back-and-forth shelling that’s left more than 185 Palestinians dead, and many more wounded or homeless. Several Israelis have also received medical care, mostly for shock.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dug in his heels Sunday, saying Operation Protective Edge, which has seen the Israeli Air Force launch more than 1,300 air strikes on Gaza since July 8, could last for some time yet.
But by late Monday, Israel said its security cabinet will meet early Tuesday to discuss Egypt’s proposal.
According to Israeli news agency Haaretz, Netanyahu favours Egypt’s plan and will call a vote at 7 a.m. local time (12 a.m. ET).
The Egyptian proposal, if both sides accept it, calls for a temporary ceasefire beginning at 9 a.m. and ending at 9 p.m.
Israeli and Palestinian officials would travel to Cairo 48 hours later for further talks.
Some right-wing members of the Israeli Knesset slammed talk of a truce— including Deputy Defence Minister Danny Dannon, quoted in The Times of Israel saying it would be “a slap in the face of the citizens of Israel.”
Foreign Minister Avidgor Lieberman and Minister of Economy Naftali Bennett reportedly plan to vote against the proposal.
— Dan Williams (@DanWilliams) July 14, 2014
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat, who was involved in the 1995 Oslo Accords that ended the First Intifada, told CNN there is a great deal of hope for the ceasefire.
“The only game in town is this Egyptian effort now,” Erakat said.
But he added it’s “premature” to predict what Hamas will decide.
Although Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, seemed receptive, Interior Minister Osama Hamad called the proposed deal “a joke.”
“It’s not really an initiative. It’s not really an idea, what they are trying to do is to corner the Palestinians and to help the Israelis more,” Hamad said in an interview with CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer late Monday. Blitzer reported Hamad hadn’t actually read the proposal when he made the comments.
The Times of Israel reported the term of the agreement as follows:
- Israel stops all its hostilities against the Gaza Strip in land, sea and air, committing not to launch a land strike or target civilians.
- All Gaza factions commit to stopping all hostilities against Israel in land, sea, air and underground and targeting Israeli civilians.
- Border crossings will be opened (not specifying where, likely with Egypt), allowing for people and commodities to move freely.
Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, an ongoing response to more than 1,000 Hamas and Islamic Jihad rockets fired from Gaza into Israeli territory, is Israel’s most aggressive offensive since the eight-day conflict in November 2012.
That conflict also ended with Egypt’s help, under the former government led by ousted President Mohammed Morsi and the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood— an ally and forefather of Hamas.
At least 150 Palestinians and five Israelis died during the eight-day battle between Israel and Hamas after Israel killed Hamas’s military chief in Gaza, Ahmed Jabari, on Nov. 14, 2012, starting what Israel called Operation Pillar of Defense.
Morsi, then in power as Egypt’s first democratically elected president, first called a 24-hour period of calm, followed by further negotiations. But those never took place: According to the New York Times, an eventual truce was brokered between Egypt and the United States.
According to The Times of Israel, Monday’s proposed ceasefire, brokered by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi—the military commander behind Morsi’s 2013 ouster—is modeled after the deal both sides agreed to on Nov. 21, 2012.
But this time around, Egypt’s Sisi-led government is virulently anti-Brotherhood and anti-Hamas, and its barricade of tunnels into Egypt’s Sinai from Gaza has pleased Israel. It isn’t clear what impact that will have on its ability to negotiate with Hamas.
With files from Anna Mehler Paperny and The Associated Press
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