Egypt Seeks Extension of Israeli-Hamas Ceasefire


JERUSALEM, Israel -- Egyptian mediators hope to extend the third temporary truce between Israel and Hamas, which expires at midnight Monday, while talks continue in Cairo.

While both sides remain wary of reaching a breakthrough before the truce expires, neither appears interested in returning to a full-blown conflict.

On Sunday, Egypt presented a long-term agreement that would be completed within a month once a ceasefire is holding.

The draft agreement calls for a cessation of all terrorist activity, including an end to rocket attacks and construction of smuggling tunnels leading to Israel. It also calls for the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip and deployment of Palestinian Authority security forces at all strategic points there.

With the cessation of terrorist activity, Israel would agree to discontinue airstrikes and deployment of ground troops in Gaza. All border crossings would be opened to allow free passage of people, goods and services. Israel will also help the P.A. reconstruct buildings damaged in Operation Protective Edge and continue to treat wounded Palestinians in Israeli hospitals.

The proposal also calls for Israel to extend the fishing zone off the Gaza coast from 6 to 12 nautical miles if the truce holds. The demand for an international airport and seaport are also being discussed in the context of a cessation of all terror activity.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad expressed their mutual dissatisfaction with the Egyptian proposal, calling it a "defeat," the Israeli daily Israel Hayom (ITALICS) reported.

"We prefer to return to Gaza without a ceasefire agreement than with a humiliating one that in effect is a declaration of defeat and that's what the Egyptian framework proposal is," the report quoted Khaled al-Batash with the Islamic Jihad.

At the opening of Sunday's cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there would be no compromise on security needs.

"From the first day, the Israeli delegation to Cairo has worked under clear instructions: Insist on the security needs of the State of Israel. Only if there is a clear response to our security needs will we agree to reach understandings," Netanyahu said.

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