Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders said Thursday that a truce agreement with Israel is "very close," after a five-day extension to the ceasefire took effect the night before at midnight.
A source in Hamas's leadership abroad, as opposed to in Gaza, said Thursday night that the extension was sealed at the last minute because an opportunity to achieve a breakthrough in talks occurred, reports Yedioth Aharonoth.
There are indications that in the course of the five-day extension a finalized truce will be agreed upon, according to the Hamas source.
An Egyptian truce proposal presented Tuesday "could lead directly to what we define as a breakthrough and give an answer to our demands," said the Hamas leader.
The Egyptian proposal offered an easing of the blockade on the Hamas terror enclave of Gaza, putting off larger Hamas demands such as a sea and airport, along with Israeli demands for a disarmament of Gaza, to be resolved in later discussions.
Confirming the Hamas leader's words, the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization's second-in-command Ziad Nahala said Thursday that a truce agreement is indeed imminent, and will include a guarantee to remove the blockade on Gaza.
Egypt talked Israel out of its security demands according to Nahala, who added that the discussions about a sea port or airport will be held a month after an initial truce agreement is signed.
As for what's on the table for a truce in the meantime, Nahala said that Egypt helped to remove the Israeli demand for a disarmament of Gaza, and for an end to the smuggling to the Hamas stronghold, as well as the local production of weapons, and the disclosure of terror tunnels.
The Islamic Jihad leader noted that both sides agreed on the opening of Gaza borders, easing entrance on goods into Gaza, extending the naval shipping zone for Gaza, and cancelling the "perimeter" on the Gaza side of the security fence, to which entrance has been banned so as to prevent terrorist infiltration to Israel.
"The agreement moves us from a state of war to a state of reconstruction," said Nahala.
Qualifying the statement about reconstruction, a Hamas leader clarified on Tuesday that any truce agreement would only be so as to plan the next terror war against Israel.
Meanwhile Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Tuesday reportedly held "softening talks" with party head coalition partners to gather support for Israeli concessions.