Report: Israel Agrees to 12-Hour Ceasefire
Israel has announced a unilateral 12-hour ceasefire in Gaza starting on Saturday morning, a U.S. official said Friday night, according to AFP.
"Israel has agreed to a 12-hour ceasefire from 07:00 am Saturday," said the official travelling with Secretary of State John Kerry, who was leaving Cairo without securing a longer ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas.
It was unclear whether the ceasefire was due to start at 7:00 am Israeli time or GMT. There has been no confirmation from any Israeli sources.
Meanwhile, the news agency reported, Kerry confirmed Friday that no ceasefire deal had been reached yet in the conflict in Gaza as he and UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged a seven-day halt in fighting.
Expectations had mounted all day for an end to the 18-day conflict, but Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri said neither Israel nor Hamas had shown "enough willingness to negotiate."
Kerry, who has been leading international efforts to reach a truce, said at a press conference in Cairo with Shoukri and Ban that both sides "still have some terminology" to agree to on a ceasefire, but added they had "fundamental framework" on a truce.
Kerry said he had not submitted any formal truce proposal.
"They may have rejected some language in the proposal within the framework ... but there was no formal proposal submitted from me," he said.
Kerry was referring to the Israeli Cabinet’s unanimous vote earlier on Friday to reject a proposal for a ceasefire.
An official involved in the negotiations for a ceasefire told The New York Times that Kerry has proposed a two-stage plan that would first impose a weeklong truce starting Sunday.
As soon as the truce took effect, Palestinian Authority and Israeli officials would begin negotiations on the principal economic, political and security concerns about Gaza, with other nations attending.
Kerry said he would travel to Paris on Saturday to hold further talks with the foreign ministers of Qatar and Turkey, which exert influence over Hamas.
He will also meet in Paris top French and British diplomats, including French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, and the European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal declared on Wednesday that Israel must accept his list of unprecedented conditions for a ceasefire in order for any truce to be implemented.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)