Israel-Hamas truce likely this week, says Hamas official

February 3rd, 2009 - 5:03 pm ICT by ANI  

Jerusalem, Feb.3 (ANI): A top Hamas official has told The Jerusalem Post that an Egyptian-mediated cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas is likely to be reached by Thursday. Ahmed Youssef, the Gaza-based deputy foreign minister and former political adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, said he had not yet heard from a Hamas delegation in Cairo, which was scheduled to meet Egyptian officials about a cease-fire proposal, but said he was optimistic that a cease-fire agreement was imminent.
“All I know is that there are positive signals. We are heading toward a right direction, toward a cease-fire. I do believe that they will find a way in the next couple of days for them to announce something,” Youssef was quoted, as saying.
Another senior Hamas official, Mohammed Nasr, told Al-Jazeera earlier Monday that differences in positions were holding up a deal. Hamas is seeking a one-year truce, the opening of all border crossings, a lifting of the embargo, including the free movement of all construction materials, and a halt to all Israeli aggression, Youssef said.
Hamas also has rejected any Israeli security arrangements at Egypt’’s Rafah border crossing with the Gaza Strip, he added. Instead, arrangements would be worked out among the Egyptians, Palestinians and Europeans, he said.
The European Union’’s special representative for the Middle East peace process, Marc Otte, told the Post on Monday that as far as he knew, both Israel and the Palestinian Authority were ready to reopen the Rafah crossing under the 2005 agreement on movement and access.
That 2005 agreement placed the PA on the Gaza side of Rafah along with the European Union, which physically monitored that border in conjunction with Israel. Israel checked on movement there with the help of surveillance equipment.
Defense officials said Monday that Israel was waiting to see the outcome of the Egyptian-Hamas talks in Cairo. (ANI)

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