Hamas set to accept Egypt's proposal for period of calm with Israel
Hamas leader and the prime minister of the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday said that a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas must include the West Bank as well as Gaza Strip. Haniyeh, however, hinted that the Palestinian movement would respond positively to an Egyptian-brokered truce proposal.
According to Haniyeh, when a delegation of senior Hamas officials visits Cairo on Thursday, "the ball will be in Israel's court."
Speaking at the opening ceremony of a children's hospital in Gaza, Haniyeh stated: "The 'tahdiya' (calm), should it be accepted by Israel, must be reciprocal and comprehensive – both in Gaza Strip and in the West Bank. The mechanism for implementing the 'tahdiya' depends on halting the aggression, lifting the blockade and opening the crossings. The ball is now in Israel's court." Haniyeh conveyed that Hamas is ready to recognize a diplomatic agreement to establish a "Palestinian state within the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital, which would include the refugees' return."
Meanwhile, Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki said Wednesday in Spain that the Gaza Strip is close to declaring a ceasefire under a deal proposed by Egyptian mediators. "I think we are very close to announcing a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip that will allow the blockade of the border area to be lifted and also end Israeli incursions and the launch rockets of Hamas into southern Israel," he told a conference in Madrid.
According to AFP, Malki was speaking one day before US President George W. Bush is to hold talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Washington.