Kerry Reaches out to Hamas Allies to Press Truce
US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke Thursday to his counterparts in Qatar and Turkey, which support the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, as he pressed for a Gaza ceasefire.
A day after he flew to Israel and cited signs of progress, Kerry was hunkered down in Egypt - which drafted a truce proposal to end the Israel-Hamas conflict that was rejected by Hamas - as he reached out to regional officials by telephone, aides said.
The top US diplomat spoke to the foreign ministers of Qatar and Turkey in the hope that the two countries would use their influence to encourage Hamas to accept a ceasefire plan, which the terrorist group has so far rejected, a US official said.
Kerry also spoke again with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, after meeting him for two hours late Wednesday in Tel Aviv.
Unlike previous days, Kerry did not make any public appearances as new violence raged in the Gaza Strip. Overnight IDF forces struck 90 terrorist targets and discovered several "terror tunnels" into Israel.
Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal is based in Qatar, while Turkey's Islamist Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has harshly criticized Israel's assault on Hamas-ruled Gaza as well as Egypt's role in trying to clinch a ceasefire to end the 17-day conflict.
Hamas has rejected the ceasefire proposal by Egypt's military-backed government, insisting that Israel end its eight-year siege on the Gaza Strip - a position repeated by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on Wednesday.
Israel, which initially accepted a truce, has said it will keep up its military campaign as it eliminates tunnels that infiltrate the Jewish state from Gaza.
Kerry also spoke by telephone to Foreign Minister Boerge Brende of Norway, which is the chair of the so-called Ad Hoc Liaison Committee which coordinates development aid to the Palestinians.
Norway is working to arrange a new aid conference for September in Oslo, although no final decision has been made, foreign ministry spokesman Frode Andersen said.
The conference follows requests by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, he said.
After a previous Israeli military campaign in Gaza in 2009, donors met in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Sheikh and promised more than $4.4 billion to rebuild Gaza over two years.
But much of the aid was held up, as donor countries refuse to channel money through Hamas while Israel blocks shipments of goods it says could be used in attacks.