Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Gaza truce delayed as Israel needs to respond to proposals: Hamas.(AA).A Hamas official said on Tuesday that Egyptian efforts to broker a truce with Israel had been held up because the Israeli government had yet to respond to proposals, indicating there would be no ceasefire until Wednesday at the earliest. “The Israeli side has not responded yet, so we will not hold a (news) conference this evening and must wait until tomorrow,” Ezzat al-Rishq, a senior Hamas leader, told Reuters.
“The truce is now held up because we are waiting for the Israeli side to respond,” he added in a short telephone interview. Previously, Hamas official Ayman Taha said Israel and Palestinians from the Gaza Strip have agreed to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire that will come into force at midnight local (2200 GMT). "An agreement for calm has been reached. It will be declared at 9.00 p.m. and go into effect at midnight," Taha said. While Hamas earlier indicated that a truce could start later Tuesday, there was no confirmation from the Israeli side. But Israel said it will put a “temporary hold” on Gaza ground operation.
On Tuesday, the Israeli army gave Gaza City residents leaflets ordering them to evacuate “immediately,” heightening fears that a ground invasion might be imminent. A Hamas official said chief Khaled Meshaal and his negotiators were currently in a meeting with the intelligence chief. “But it’s no secret we’re on the verge of an agreement,” he said.
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will leave Asia on Tuesday to visit Israel, Egypt and Ramallah, stepping up U.S. efforts to avoid a worsening of the Gaza crisis, an official said. Clinton will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and discuss the crisis with Egyptian and Palestinian leaders, after leaving President Barack Obama’s trip to Southeast Asia, said senior Obama aide Ben Rhodes. Obama made the decision to send Clinton after speaking to Netanyahu and twice to Mursi, after leaving East Asia summit meetings on Monday night, said Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser. News of Clinton’s trip came as Israeli leaders Tuesday discussed an Egyptian plan for a truce with Gaza’s ruling Hamas militant group, and after the death toll from Israeli raids on the enclave rose to more than 100. Senior Israeli ministers decided overnight to delay any ground invasion of the Gaza Strip to give Egyptian-led truce efforts a chance to work. Palestinian officials said Clinton would visit Ramallah in the West Bank on Wednesday morning for talks with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.Read the full story here.