LIVE UPDATES: Palestinian sources say cease-fire deal initialed, Israeli official counters reports: No deal yet; Netanyahu: Israel prepared for every scenario as truce deadline nears.
With the current cease-fire due to end Monday at midnight, Israeli officials seemed doubtful that the talks in Cairo could achieve any kind of agreement before the deadline, but stressed that if Hamas withheld its fire, negotiations could continue.
“It’s still not clear if we can reach an agreement,” a senior Israeli official said. “If the [rocket] fire resumes, Israel will respond forcefully, and if the fire does not resume but no agreement is reached, we will examine whether we can come to some other arrangement and provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.”
Egypt is seeking to come up with a formula by midday Monday that will give both Israel and Hamas and the other Palestinian factions enough to declare an extension of the temporary cease-fire so that talks can continue, Palestinian sources told Haaretz Sunday night.
12:53 A.M. The head of the Palestinian negotiations team to Cairo, Azzam al-Ahmad, tekks the media that no progress has been made in the talks due to Israeli foot-dragging.
“Everything you’ve heard in the media about progress is not true. I hope we will use every minute tomorrow to reach a deal. Maybe we will reach an agreement and maybe not,” he says. “So far we’ve only agreed to extend the cease-fire by one day.” (Haaretz)
11:56 P.M. Palestinian sources told Al-Jazeera late Monday that the cease-fire agreement contained the following points: The opening of all border crossings in coordination with the Palestinian Authority and the transfer of building materials to the Gaza Strip under international supervision; extension of the fishing zone in Gaza from 6-9 nautical miles, and to 12 miles following future talks; deliberations on the creation of a Gaza port and the release of prisoners will be delayed for a month after the agreement is signed; rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip will be carried out under the authority of a unified Palestinian government. Aside from these points, a return to the status quo from prior to the recent fighting. (Jack Khoury)
11:32 P.M. A senior Israeli official has confirmed that the cease-fire would be extended by 24 hours at Egypt’s request to enable the continuation of negotiations in Cairo. (Barak Ravid)
11:04 P.M. Senior Hamas official Izat Arashaq says that an agreement has been reached to extend the talks by an additional 24 hours to continue the negotiations for a cease-fire. (Jack Khoury)
10:43 P.M. A senior Israeli official said that a cease-fire deal has not yet been reached in Cairo, despite previous reports to that effect by Palestinian sources. (Barak Ravid)
10:22 P.M. Palestinian and Egyptian sources told Haaretz the meeting between the Palestinian and the Egyptian delegations is still ongoing, and that reports of a deal are premature. “There’s a clear trend toward a continuation of the calm but it’s not in writing at this stage,” they said. According to reports, Egypt will issue a statement near midnight. (Jack Khoury)
8:52 P.M. Palestinian sources in the West Bank say that an agreement to extend the cease-fire has been initialed in Cairo by the Israeli and Palestinian delegations. The pact includes agreements on certain issues while delaying discussions on others. An official announcement is to be delivered shortly. There is as yet no official confirmation of the agreement from either side.
An Egyptian source told Haaretz that most major issues have been postponed to further negotiations, and that the expected announcement will be a declaration of intent, without comprehensive details. The announcement will address Israel’s readiness to lift the Gaza blockade and the operation of the Strip’s crossings in coordination with the Palestinian Authority. (Jack Khoury).
7:01 P.M. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a situation assessment Monday evening with the defense minister and senior IDF officials at a naval base in Ashdod, and said that Israel is “prepared for every scenario” as the midnight deadline for expiration of the cease-fire approved. Netanyahu emphasized that the Israel Defense Forces is preparing for intense strikes if the rocket fire resumes.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said during the assessment that Israel was preparing itself for the results of the Cairo talks “whether it brings quiet or if someone tries to challenge us into escalation.” Ya’alon added that the IDF was prepared and ready to respond forcefully to any development. “Hamas will not drag us into a war of attrition, and if it does try, it will receive a double portion from us.” (Barak Ravid)
4:30 P.M. Ziad Nakhleh, head of the Islamic Jihad faction within the Palestinian delegation in Cairo, said he expects the quiet to be extended if a deal is not reached by the midnight deadline.
“The war is behind us now,” he told the AP. “We are not returning to war.” (Associated Press)
2:33 P.M. Fatah officials say the rival Hamas movement has placed scores of Fatah activists in Gaza under house arrest during the Gaza war and has shot several in the legs for not staying indoors.
One of those attacked, Sami Abu Lasheen, told The Associated Press on Monday that Hamas gunmen shot him in both legs in late July. Abu Lasheen is undergoing treatment at a Jordanian hospital, but says he will need several months to recover.
The shootings came despite a power-sharing deal between the Islamic militant Hamas and Fatah’s leader, Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, earlier this year. Hamas and Fatah representatives are also part of a joint Palestinian delegation negotiating a cease-fire in Egyptian-mediated talks in Cairo.
A Hamas official denied that house arrests were imposed as a policy. (AP)
10:25 A.M. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will meet with Hamas chief Khaled Meshal during a visit to Qatar. (Jack Khoury)
10:15 A.M. Palestinian officials in Cairo tell Haaretz: Despite ongoing difficulties in the current negotiations, there is a general willingness to continue the truce, at least for a few days.
“Everyone has been talking about the conflict in the past tense,” a Palestinian source told Haaretz. He said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas only arrived in Cairo on Friday and did not immediately reinforce this assessment.
According to the officials, Israel returned to the issues of disarmament and demilitarization on Sunday, which has led to hardened attitudes of various factions, namely Hamas. (Jack Khouri)
8:57 A.M. Egypt and Norway plan to co-host a donor conference to help toward the reconstruction of Gaza once a durable ceasefire has been negotiated, the Norwegian foreign ministry said on Monday.
Cairo has been mediating talks between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators since the start of the conflict between Israel and Hamas. Oslo chairs the international donor group for the Palestinians. A five-day cease-fire is due to expire late on Monday.
“The invitations to the conference, to be held in Cairo, will be duly extended once an agreement on a sustainable cease-fire has been reached as a result of the ongoing talks in Cairo,” the Norwegian foreign ministry said in a statement. (Reuters)
8:41 A.M. Israel suspended rail traffic near the Gaza Strip, to avoid coming under potential rocket fire, a news report said early Monday.
All trains between Ashkelon on the coast, around 50 kilometres south of Tel Aviv, and the town of Sderot, 20 kilometres further south-east near the border with Gaza, would be cancelled until further notice, news website ynet reported. (DPA)
5:50 P.M. U.S. President Barack Obama planned a break in the middle of his vacation to return to Washington on Sunday night for unspecified meetings with Vice President Joe Biden and other advisers. Part of the decision appears aimed at countering criticism that Obama is spending two weeks on a resort island in the midst of so many foreign and domestic crises.
Yet those crises turned the first week of Obama’s vacation into a working holiday. He made on-camera statements on U.S. military action in Iraq and the clashes between police and protesters in Ferguson, Missouri. He called foreign leaders to discuss the tensions between Ukraine and Russia, as well as between Israel and Hamas. (AP)