Egyptian president slams Hamas over sluggish ceasefire talks

By Xinhua,

CAIRO : Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday lashed out at the Islamic Hamas movement for its fruitless “resistance” and unwillingness to strike a long-term truce deal with Israel in the war-torn Gaza Strip.

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The president made the remarks when addressing the Mubarak Academy for Security on the occasion of the yearly Police Day, according to a speech text carried by the official MENA news agency.

“Why did the resistance factions refuse to extend the truce?” the president said, warning that the stance is “an open invitation to Israel for aggression.”

The ceasefire talks between a Hamas delegation and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman in Cairo have so far yielded little visible progress.

Gaza militant groups wanted a one-year truce lifting the Israeli embargo and opening all the border crossings, while the Israeli side offered a 18-month lull with partially opening the checkpoints.

The Egyptian president said “Egypt will maintain its contacts and efforts for stabilizing the ceasefire and restoring the truce.”

Egypt has proposed a “lasting” truce between Israel and Palestinian militant groups as of Feb. 5 and a fresh bout of the inter-Palestinian dialogue on Feb. 22, which was boycotted by Hamas last November.

As for the Gaza rulers’ creed of “resistance” against the “occupation,” Mubarak said “resistance is not mere slogans that do not heed the suffering of the innocent civilians,” adding that “resistance should be subject to the calculations of gains and losses.”

More than 1,400 Palestinians were killed and about 5,500 others wounded in the 22-day Israeli offensive on Gaza, which died out on Jan. 18. According to local medical sources, nearly half of the casualties were civilians.

Moreover, Mubarak voiced his country’s willingness to secure regional peace with major players.

“Egypt remains committed to peace as far as Israel demonstrates the same keenness,” he added, hinting at possible escalation of Israeli operations in Gaza after the tit-for-tat attacks flared upon Sunday.

Earlier on Tuesday, Egypt destroyed three tunnels on borders between Rafah and Gaza, which are accused by Israel of facilitating arms smuggling into the coastal enclave and Hamas recovery.