Egypt PM says Gaza truce deal may be close

CAIRO Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:47am EST

Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City November 19, 2012. Israel bombed dozens of suspected guerrilla sites in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Monday and Palestinian rocket fire from the enclave dropped off as international efforts to broker a truce intensified. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City November 19, 2012. Israel bombed dozens of suspected guerrilla sites in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Monday and Palestinian rocket fire from the enclave dropped off as international efforts to broker a truce intensified.

Credit: Reuters/Suhaib Salem

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CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's prime minister said on Monday that an agreement brokered by Cairo to stop the fighting between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza could be close.

"Negotiations are going on as we speak and I hope we will reach something soon that will stop this violence and counter violence," Prime Minister Hisham Kandil said in an interview in Cairo for the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit.

Israel launched an air campaign on Wednesday with the declared goal of deterring Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, from launching rockets at its southern communities.

Egypt is seeking to reinstate a ceasefire after an informal one it brokered in October collapsed.

"I think we are close, but the nature of this kind of negotiation (means) it is very difficult to predict," he said.

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi had said on Saturday that there were "some indications" a ceasefire could be reached soon but said there were no firm guarantees.

"President Mursi is determined to play his role as a key player in the region and help mediate this," said Kandil, who visited Gaza on Friday to show Egypt's solidarity with the Palestinians.

Israel bombed dozens of suspected guerrilla sites in Gaza, ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement, on Monday and Palestinian rocket fire from the enclave eased off.

The prime minister said Egypt was in contact with both Israeli and Palestinian officials, and with other regional and international players, including Turkey and Qatar, as well as the United States, Britain and Germany.

"There are exchanges of visits and talks with both sides and there is also communications with various leaders from the region," he said.

Separately on Monday, another Egyptian official, who declined to be identified, said that Egypt was receiving "encouraging signals" about a ceasefire and said both Israel and Hamas were seeking guarantees.

"What we are trying to agree on is to achieve a ceasefire and achieve some possible guarantees, and then later discuss more guarantees," the official told Reuters.

Izzat Risheq, aide to Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal, wrote on Facebook that Hamas would enter a truce only after Israel "stops its aggression, ends its policy of targeted assassinations and lifts the blockade of Gaza".

Listing Israel's terms, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon wrote on Twitter: "If there is quiet in the south and no rockets and missiles are fired at Israel's citizens, nor terrorist attacks engineered from the Gaza Strip, we will not attack."

(Additional reporting by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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Comments (4)
‘rocket fire eased off’. what is so difficult about this? stop firing rockets at israel, and israel will stop the bombing. guarantee israel you will never fire another rocket at them, and they will stop. what is so hard about this?

Nov 19, 2012 9:33am EST  --  Report as abuse
americanguy wrote:
Watch out for more fake dirty tricks from Israel, Hamas.
Just a little while ago Israel killed your General under a “white flag” truce.
Dirtiest trick I have heard of from a so called civilized country.

Nov 19, 2012 10:20am EST  --  Report as abuse
mebs wrote:
103 civilians are dead 100plastitians and 3 isreals the world leaders just sat and watched this 103 innocent people who had no fault had to die and many more injured lost the property and when the Y think enough people have died that’s when they think to get involved it is shame . When will you think human then your own interest I hope you realize one day when you leave office or get old you had chance to stop all this but you didn’t

Nov 19, 2012 12:25pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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