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Both Secretary of State John Kerry and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were in Cairo Tuesday morning in efforts to support Egyptian efforts for a ceasefire. On Tuesday morning, Hamas official Mohammad Nazzel stated that Hamas would, “agree to hours-long humanitarian cease-fires, but not to a long-term truce” just an hour later senior Israeli officials stating that a humanitarian ceasefire was “not on the agenda.”
At 10:00 am Tuesday, Yoav Mordechai, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, officially announced to UN envoy Robert Serry that Israel rejects the proposal for a humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza.
Following a meeting with Egyptian officials, Kerry called for an immediate ceasefire, stating that talks in Cairo were designed to “hopefully find not only a way to a ceasefire, but a way to deal with the underlying issues, which are very complicated.”
Egyptian officials have suggested that a ceasefire also be a start to renewed peace talks. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri stated, “We hope (Kerry’s) visit will result in a ceasefire that provides the necessary security for the Palestinian people and that we can commence to address the medium and long-term issues related to Gaza… to not only resolve this issue but also to set in motion once again the peace process that Secretary Kerry has been so actively involved in so as to end this ongoing conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”
Following his meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Kerry stated that, “Hamas has a fundamental choice to make and it is a choice that will have a profound impact for the people of Gaza. The Egyptians have provided a framework and a forum for them to be able to come to the table to have a serious discussion together with other factions of the Palestinians.”
Hamas continues to demand for a complete lift of both Egyptian and Israeli blockades on Gaza, and that Israel release prisoners incarcerated during the search for the three teenagers who were murdered. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh stated on Hamas’s demands that, “The world must understand that Gaza has decided to end the blockade by its blood and its heroism.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Prime Minister Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Tuesday afternoon. In a press conference in Israel with Netanyahu and Ban, Netanyahu focused on Hamas’s constant refusal to accept any ceasefire, as well as their continued efforts to terrorize and harm Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers.
He stated, “What we are seeing here with Hamas is another instance of Islamist extremist that has no resolvable grievance. Hamas is like ISIS, like al-Qaeda, like Hezbollah, like Boko Haram. Hamas builds terrorist tunnels under hospitals, mosques, and schools. Hamas is committing a double war crime. They want more civilian casualties, whereas we want no civilian casualties. He stated that Hamas is “holding the people of Gaza hostage,” adding, “What grievance can we solve for Hamas? Their grievance is that we exist.”
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon responded condemning Hamas and Islamic Jihad attacks on Israel, stating that, “No country would accept the rockets raining down on its territory. All countries and parties have an obligation to protect its citizens. We condemn the use of civilians sites, schools, hospitals and other civilian facilities for military purposes.”
He then went on to speak of Palestinian causalities, stating, “
Too many Palestinians and Israeli mothers are burying their children. We owe it to them to intensify our efforts to find a solution.”
He reemphasized his message and goals for a ceasefire and two state solution stating, “My message is the same: Stop fighting, start talking and take on the root causes of the conflict so we are not at the same situation in another six months or a year. We must address these underlying issues, including occupation so people do not feel they have to resort to violence…. military actions will not increase Israel’s stability in the longer term.”
Ban is scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday.
Photo credit: Prime Minister of Israel (Creative Commons)
Amir Tsarfati is the founder and president of Behold Israel, a news site to correct the scarcity in trustworthy reportage on issues and events impacting Israel, and to resolve the uncertainty about who or what to believe.