'Breakthrough' Reported in Cairo Talks; Deal 'Initialed'
The Israeli and Palestinian teams to Cairo ceasefire talks have signed their initials to a permanent ceasefire agreement, according to an unconfirmed report by Bethlehem-based Ma'an news.
Meanwhile, sources close to the Palestinian delegation in Cairo told the Al Quds newspaper Monday night that there has been a breakthrough in the talks that may make it possible to extend the ceasefire even before it expires at midnight tonight.
"The Egyptian mediator played an important role in the breakthrough,” the sources said, “in refusing the new Israeli demands through which Israel reinforced its objection to the Egyptian initiative.”
There has been no confirmation of this report from any other source.
The Al Mayadeen network reported, meanwhile, that the Israeli delegation returned to Israel and that neither side is interested in renewing the fighting, so the ceasefire that began Thursday is expected to hold.
Ahead of the deadline, Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas was travelling to Doha Monday for talks with Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and Qatari emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani. Qatar is a key backer of Hamas, the de facto rulers of Gaza.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Monday that Israel will hit back hard if Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza resume, speaking just hours before the midnight expiry of a five-day ceasefire.
"We are ready for all scenarios... the army is ready to respond with force if the firing (of rockets) resumes," he said in a meeting with Defense
Minister Moshe Ya'alon in Ashdod.
According to the Prime Minister, the turbulent Middle East needs a combination of strength and perseverance.
"The IDF has a lot of power and, the eternal people are not afraid of a long road," he said. "It can take some time and patience, determination and perseverance," he said. "The combination of endurance and strength will help us to achieve the target of this operation - the achievement of peace and security for all citizens of Israel."
Defense Minister Ya'alon added that the self-defense operation in Gaza has not ended.
"Operation Protective Edge has not ended," Ya'alon said. "As we have committed [before], we do not stop until we bring peace and security."
"We are preparing for the results of the discussions in Cairo, to see whether it will bring peace, or whether anyone tries to challenge us in escalation," he added. "The army is ready respond strongly to any development. Hamas will not drag us to a war of attrition, and if it tries [to do so] it will receive it in kind."