US may ask Egypt to mediate in Hamas-Israel talks

March 6th, 2008 - 6:27 pm ICT by admin  

Ramallah (Palestine), March 6 (Xinhua) The US is likely to ask Egypt to mediate between Hamas and Israel to reach a ceasefire in the Palestinian territories, chief Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qurei said Thursday. He said the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) requested the US to mediate in the talks.

When US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Ramallah Tuesday, she agreed with the PNA “on a mechanism to calm down the situation in Gaza Strip through Egyptian mediation”, Qurei told Saudi Arabia’s daily al-Watan.

Meanwhile, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Rice’s assistant for Near East affairs, David Welch, will visit Cairo Thursday to discuss with the Egyptian side the extent of Hamas commitment to stop the rocket attacks into southern Israel.

“The ceasefire of rockets is going to be part of a comprehensive truce deal covering the Gaza Strip and West Bank,” said Nemer Hammad, Abbas’ political advisor.

Hamas seized control of the Gaza Strip in June after routing pro-Abbas security forces. Israel stepped up military operations in the Hamas-ruled territory sparking rocket attacks in retaliation.

If a ceasefire deal is reached and crossing points into Gaza are reopened, the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations would resume, according to Hammad.

The PNA halted the negotiations last week in response to a deadly Israeli army incursion and air-strikes against Gaza where more than 125 Palestinians were killed in less than a week.

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