Tel Aviv undecided about Egypt truce proposal with Hamas
Both Hamas and Israel said fighting would continue if no permanent ceasefire was reached (File/AFP)
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Israeli Communications Minister Gilad Erdan has said that Tel Aviv has not yet decided about an Egyptian proposal for an enduring Palestinian-Israeli ceasefire, The Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday.
Erdan said no deal with Hamas would be "better than a deal that compromised Israeli security," the newspaper's website quoted the minister as saying to Israel Radio.
He added that Israel would reject the proposal and "maintain the IDF's operations in the Gaza vicinity" if the Egyptian proposal limits Israel from a security perspective.
An Israeli military presence around Gaza would help prevent the possibility of dual-use materials entering the Gaza Strip as Hamas has threatened to continue to restock its rockets arsenal, Erdan – a member of the eight-member security cabinet – said.
Israel's offensive on Gaza, which began on 8 July, has led to the death of more than 1,930 Palestinians and the injury of more than 10,000 others. A total of 64 soldiers and three civilians were also killed on the Israeli side.
Hamas had stressed the likelihood of resorting to fighting following the expiry of the ongoing five-day truce if their prerequisites for an enduring truce are not met.
According to Reuters, Osama Hamdan, the head of Hamas' foreign affairs department, warned that Israel must accept the demands of the Palestinian people or face a long war.
The new rounds of talks on Sunday are expected to resume on the basis of an Egyptian proposal that calls for a lasting ceasefire beyond Monday midnight, along with talks on complex issues including demands for a seaport and airport in Gaza, AFP reported.
The Palestinian delegation officially presented its demands for a permanent ceasefire last week, which included an immediate Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, halting airstrikes, lifting the Israeli blockade on the coastal strip, establishment of an airport and seaport and releasing Palestinian prisoners.
In a press statement, Egypt's foreign ministry declared late Wednesday the extension of the truce between Israel and Palestinian factions for another five days. Two three-day truces were sponsored by Egypt prior to current one.
"The five-day ceasefire aims to provide more time to resume the indirect talks in Cairo and reach a comprehensive and permanent agreement through negotiating over the issues that matter to the Palestinian people," the statement said.
Leader of the delegation, Azzam Al-Ahmed of Fatah, spoke of amending the truce from three to five days – along with other details – during his Wednesday press briefing.
"After Egypt revealed a new 72-hour truce, the Israelis called the Egyptian officials and told them that Saturday is a day off for them, and we told the Egyptian side about the same issue as well,” MENA quoted the Fatah leader as saying.
"We decided to expand the truce two more days because Friday and Saturday are weekend days, this way it is five days in total."
Both delegations consulted with their governments during the weekend.