Israel worked to secure foreign guarantees on Friday that arms smuggling to Hamas would stop under any deal to end its three-week-old offensive in the Gaza Strip. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni headed to Washington for talks, five days before Barack Obama was due to be inaugurated as U.S. president.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told him "the United States would be prepared to assist in solving the issue of smuggling". Israel Radio said the Olmert government would also send a defence envoy, Amos Gilad, to Egypt on Friday to discuss the Gaza border.
Meanwhile, Hamas told Egypt it would agree to a year-long renewable ceasefire in the Strip if Israel pulls out all its forces within 5-7 days and reopens border crossings immediately, Hamas and diplomatic sources said on Thursday, according to Reuters. The sources said Cairo has presented Hamas' position to Israel for its consideration. Israeli
In its proposal, Hamas demanded that the opening of all the border crossings be guaranteed by Egypt and the international community. Hamas told Egypt it was open to the deployment of Turkish monitors but objected to a proposal that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' presidential guard be stationed at the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
Hamas also wants ceasefire to include a reconstruction conference.