Israeli security cabinet debating ceasefire
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called a security cabinet meeting early Tuesday morning and was expected to encourage members to accept Egypt's ceasefire proposal (AFP/ File).
The Egyptian government on Monday evening proposed a cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip, according to which the two sides would end "hostilities" as of 9a.m. on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened the security cabinet early Tuesday morning to discuss the proposal.
Diplomatic officials said that Netanyahu was expected to encourage the other seven members of the security cabinet to accept the proposal, which would return the situation in Gaza to what it was before Operation Protective Edge began a week ago. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Economy Minister are expected to oppose the proposal in the security cabinet, but are unlikely to be able to prevent the forum from accepting it.
Some 48 hours after the cease fire goes into effect, Egypt is to convene representatives of both Israel and Hamas for further negotiations.
One diplomatic official said that the cease fire would be returned to what it was last Sunday, but “with Hamas much weaker.”
“The effectiveness of their rockets have been neutralized, their storehouses and manufacturing capabilities have been hit, and they have been caused deep frustration because of the effectiveness of Iron Dome,” he said.
In addition, he said, Hamas failed in its effort to carry out attacks by land air and sea, and is at a low point in public opinion in Judea and Samaria, the international community, the Arab world and even inside Gaza.
“The goals of the operation were to restore quiet for a long period of time, and that goal has been achieved.,” he said. “The bottom line is that Hamas did not hit Israel to the degree it thought it would, and – on the other hand – its power was weakened.”
Israel, the official said, would now work in the international arena for the dismantling of rockets and the closing of tunnels.
The proposal states that Israel would end all “hostilities in the Gaza Strip from the land, air, and sea and would refrain from launching a ground offensive that targets civilians.”
President Barack Obama said he was encouraged by Egypt's proposal for a ceasefire and sided with Israel against what he called "inexcusable attacks."
Obama's comments came as he presided over an annual Iftar dinner at the White House in celebration of the holy month of Ramadan.
In remarks to dinner guests, who included diplomats from the Arab and Muslim world, Obama said the US goal continued to be peace and security for Israelis as well as Palestinians.
"Now I will say very clearly, no country can accept rockets fired indiscriminately at citizens. And so we've been very clear that Israel has the right to defend itself about what I consider inexcusable attacks from Hamas," he said.
At the same time, he added: "The death and injury of Palestinians civilians is a tragedy, which is why we've emphasized the need to protect civilians regardless of who they are and where they live."
Obama said the United States would do everything it could to bring about a return to a 2012 ceasefire between the parties.
"We are encouraged that Egypt has made a proposal to accomplish this goal which we hope can restore a calm that we've been seeking. More broadly, the situation in Gaza reminds us again that the status quo is unsustainable and the only path to true security is a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians," he said.
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, the largest Arab-American organization in the United States, had urged Muslims to boycott the dinner to protest what the group called" Obama's condoning of the killing of Palestinians."