US Secretary of State John Kerry. Photo: REUTERS


 US Secretary of State John Kerry. Photo: REUTERS
US Secretary of State John Kerry. Photo: REUTERS

Channel 10 reports that the diplomatic-security cabinet “flatly rejects” American proposals for a week-long humanitarian halt to fighting.

Israel is leaning toward rejecting US Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposal for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, Channel 10 reported on Friday.
Citing sources in the diplomatic-security cabinet that convened in Tel Aviv on Friday, Channel 10 said that Israel viewed Kerry’s bridging proposals as “a Qatari proposal with ornaments.”

Qatar has been accused by Israel of providing financing and political support to Hamas. According to Channel 10, senior Israeli ministers have ruled as “out of the question” a cease-fire in which the IDF would be prevented from fully rooting out the threat of underground tunnels built by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Media reports indicated that Kerry’s cease-fire proposal included a week-long halt to fighting so that humanitarian supplies could be distributed in Gaza.

Earlier on Friday, aides to Kerry were said to be cautiously optimistic regarding the chances of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, Channel 10 reported.

According to the report, officials close to the secretary of state said that there is a chance a week-long halt in fighting could be announced as soon as Friday evening.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet on Friday to discuss Kerry’s pitch for a limited humanitarian truce under which Palestinian movement would be freed up to allow in aid and for casualties to be recovered.

Earlier Friday, Channel 2 quoted “senior Hamas officials” as saying that the leadership of the Islamist group was “leaning toward” accepting the Kerry framework.

An Israeli official said the Netanyahu government envisages the initial halt to the fighting lasting seven days, during which the army would keep digging up tunnels on Gaza’s eastern frontier.

“First Israel wants to hear Hamas’s response to the (Kerry) proposals,” an official said, adding that some members of the security cabinet also sought assurances that Gaza would be stripped of its remaining rockets under any extended ceasefire.
Officially, Hamas had no immediate comment on the proposal. On Wednesday, its leader, Khaled Meshaal, voiced support for a humanitarian truce, but only if Israel eased restrictions on Gaza’s 1.8 million people.
Hamas wants Egypt to open up its border with Gaza, too, and has demanded that Israel release hundreds of prisoners rounded up by Israel in a sweep of the West Bank last month following the kidnap and killing of three Jewish teenagers.

Such concessions appear unlikely, however, as both Israel and Egypt consider Hamas a security threat.

One Cairo official said next week’s Eid al-Fitr festival, which concludes Ramadan, was a possible date for a truce. But US officials were circumspect on progress made by Kerry in the mediation that has involved Egypt, Turkey, Qatar and Abbas.

“Gaps remain between the parties, so his focus is on finding a formula that both sides can accept,” a senior US official said on Thursday, adding that Kerry would not stay “for an indefinite amount of time”.

via The Jerusalem Post

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