Kerry 'Tunneling Under Egyptian Ceasefire Deal', Says Minister

Israeli anger at US envoy for his attempt to forge a ceasefire with Hamas sponsors Turkey, Qatar, in Paris talks.

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Gil Ronen, AFP,


An Israeli minister accused U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry of “digging a tunnel under the the Egyptian ceasefire proposal” by accepting Hamas's conditions for a ceasefire in Paris talks Saturday, Channel 2 reported. The minister's identity was not revealed.

Kerry and top diplomats from Europe and the Middle East who gathered in Paris Saturday called for an extension to a temporary truce declared Saturday between Israel and Hamas. However, neither Israel, nor Egypt, nor the Palestinian Authority under Mahmoud Abbas were represented in the talks. Israeli diplomatic sources accused Kerry of accepting Hamas's terms for a permanent ceasefire as represented in Paris by Hamas sponsor Qatar and the terror organization's political backer, Turkey. 

Hamas wants Israel and Egypt to agree to remove the blockade of Gaza, and to set up a mechanism for Hamas to receive funding, as part of the ceasefire agreement. The Egyptian ceasefire proposal, however, calls for the sides to stop firing first, and then negotiate other matters.

"We all call on parties to extend the humanitarian ceasefire currently in force, by 24 hours that could be renewed," France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters after the meeting, which lasted more than two hours.

"We all want to obtain a lasting ceasefire as quickly as possible that addresses both Israeli requirements in terms of security and Palestinian requirements in terms of socio-economic development," said Fabius, who went on to brief Abbas on the phone.

Israel rejected the request for 24-hour extension of the truce but approved a four-hour extension, until midnight.

Kerry and Fabius met with their counterparts from Britain, Germany, Italy, Qatar and Turkey, as well as a representative from the European Union.

"The massacres are unbearable, they cannot continue," a top French diplomatic source, who refused to be named, said.

"We hope that this morning will be the start of a positive cycle that will allow a lasting ceasefire in order to negotiate the conditions of a permanent truce to go towards peace."

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal is based in Qatar, while Turkey's Islamic-oriented prime minister has strongly criticized Israel's assault on Gaza as well as Egypt's role in trying to clinch a ceasefire. Qatar is represented by Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah and Turkey by Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.