Mubarak asks Israel to declare truce
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called on Saturday for an immediate and unconditional truce in the Gaza Strip, as Hamas vowed to fight on if its terms were not met. "I ask Israel today to end its military operations immediately," Mubarak said in an address on state television as more than 1,200 Palestinians were killed during the past three weeks.
"I call on its leadership for an immediate unconditional ceasefire and a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Strip," he said.
According to AFP, Mubarak called in his speech on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to "heed reason and conscience" to end the bloodshed in Gaza. The Egyptian leader insisted that his country was securing its border with the Gaza Strip, and Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said Cairo would not be bound by a just-inked US-Israeli deal to stop arms smuggling to Gaza. "Egypt, in its efforts to stop the aggression, is working on securing its borders with Israel and the Gaza Strip and it will never accept the presence of foreign observers on its territory," Mubarak said. "I say that is a red line we will not allow to be crossed," he added.
Egypt "is absolutely not bound by this agreement," on halting arms smuggling through tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border, Abul Gheit told reporters. The Egyptian foreign minister also said that Israel was the main obstacle to Egyptian efforts to secure a ceasefire in Gaza. "Israel is drunk with power and violence," he said.
On Saturday, Britain, France and Germany offered in a joint letter to Israel and Egypt to help prevent arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown pledged Royal Navy help in stopping the smuggling, in a bid to break the deadlock on securing a ceasefire.