dinsdag 13 januari 2009

Olmert hoopt nog op Gaza overeenkomst via Egypte

Dit klinkt niet alsof er al veel vooruitgang is geboekt in de besprekingen in Kairo, maar Israel is blijkbaar bereid om ze een serieuze kans te geven voordat het de derde fase van haar offensief start.

Last update - 02:30 13/01/2009
Olmert seeks push in Cairo talks before Gaza op enters third stage 
By Barak Ravid and Avi Issacharoff
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday sent a message to a number of world leaders that Israel wants to see a diplomatic move through Egypt that would lead to a cessation of arms-smuggling into Gaza, before the Gaza operation enters its third phase.
Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met last night to discuss contacts with Egypt. It is still unclear when the Defense Ministry's security chief, Amos Gilad, will leave for Cairo to discuss ways to stop the smuggling with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.
Snags in talks between Egypt and Hamas are reportedly behind the delay.
Emissaries from Hamas arrived last night in Cairo for cease-fire talks with Egyptian officials. They are expected to present objections to Egyptian demands but will apparently not reject the Egyptian initiative outright.
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Monday that his organization would cooperate with initiatives for a cease-fire and an opening of the crossings in Gaza.
Olmert told foreign leaders that talks with the Egyptians were moving ahead, and that he was ready to give these talks a chance before deciding to expand Operation Cast Lead. Olmert told them he wanted to try to avoid an expansion, but would do so if there were no other choice and the Egyptian effort proved fruitless.
In contrast with his statements abroad, Olmert's has broadcasted a tougher message domestically. Speaking to mayors in Ashkelon on Monday, Olmert said there were two conditions for an end to the operation: a cessation of Hamas rocket fire and a cessation of smuggling and Hamas' strengthening.
The prime minister also said if smuggling continued after the end of the operation, and longer-ranger rockets came to the Gaza Strip, Israel's deterance would be compromised throughout the region.
"If these two conditions are met, we will cease the Gaza operation. Anything else will slam into Israel's iron fist. Will it take time? It will take time. We will continue for as long as it takes to remove the threat over our heads. We have reached marvelous achievements in the fighting," Olmert said. "This is the moment for the test to see who has stronger willpower, us or them."
Haniyeh, speaking on the Hamas television channel Al-Aqsa for the second time since the beginning of fighting in the Gaza Strip, pledged, "Gaza will not break - our victory over the Zionists is close."
Quoting extensively from the Koran, Haniyeh said, "We have placed our fate in the hands of Allah, what power do the sons of Zion have; Allah will yet take revenge on them."
The Hamas representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, said Monday the Egyptian proposal did not meet Hamas' demands. In interviews with a number of Arab media outlets, Hamdan explained that Hamas would not agree to an international force in Gaza and to a clause calling for a cessation of "the bringing of weapons into Gaza."
Hamdan also said Hamas wanted an end to Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip, a withdrawal of Israeli forces, a lifting of the siege on Gaza and an opening of the crossings.
Egypt, however, continued to insist on the principles of its proposal from last week: An immediate cease-fire (without an Israeli withdrawal), the beginning of talks on a long-term cease-fire leading to the opening of the crossings, and the third stage - renewal of talks between Hamas and Fatah to allow the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza.
The Hamas leadership is to meet today in Cairo with Suleiman and his aides.
Some 30 Palestinians were killed Monday in Gaza, bringing the total number of dead to approximately 920, with another 4,200 injured.

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