Hamas offers Gaza truce with Israel
Hamas leaders handed over on Thursday proposals for a truce with Israel in the Gaza Strip, with a timetable for extending it to the West Bank, at a meeting of the Palestinian Islamist group with Egyptian mediators, the Reuters reported.
Former Palestinian Foreign Minister Mahmoud el-Zahar and former Interior Minister Saeed Seyam held talks with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, Egypt's main contact with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and Israel, the Egyptian state news agency MENA said.
A Palestinian official close to the talks said the Hamas delegation would tell Suleiman it is prepared to accept the idea of a staged truce, starting with Gaza only.
"Hamas's position is that they agree to a calm in Gaza and the West Bank but it would begin in Gaza at this stage and then apply to the West Bank after an agreed and specified period of time," said the official, who declined to be named.
Hamas, which controls Gaza but has prominent members resident in the West Bank, has previously insisted that a truce should begin and apply at the same time to both areas.
Israel said it was ready for "quiet" at the Gaza border, but that it would require a complete halt to attacks by Hamas on Israelis, a stop to cross-border rocket fire from all Palestinian groups and an end to weapon smuggling into Gaza.
"We can't have a period of quiet that will just be the quiet before the storm," said Mark Regev, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
The Palestinian official said Hamas made any truce conditional on Israel opening all of Gaza's border crossings and halting military action in the territory.
The Islamist group had backing from other Palestinian militant factions in the enclave, he added.