Hamas says will respond Saturday to truce proposal


Gaza : An official in the Islamist movement Hamas said Thursday that the movement would give its final answer on Saturday to a possible Egyptian-brokered truce with Israel, but said that Israeli proposals for an agreement were vague.

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Hamas Gaza spokesman in Gaza Fawzi Barhoum said that “a deal on a truce was not reached” because Israel had linked ending its blockade on the Gaza Strip and opening the border crossings – a key Hamas demand – with the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held captive in the Strip for over two-and-a-half years.

Barhoum said Israel was offering only a partial opening of the Gaza crossings, an offer which was ” totally rejected”. Other issues needed clarifications, he said.

“Egypt would need time to prepare the Israeli answers to Hamas’ questions, then Hamas would take the Israeli answers for consultations with its leadership inside and outside the Palestinian territories,” he said.

The talks between Egypt and Hamas would resume on Saturday, he added.

The Hamas delegation, which included three officials from Gaza and two from Damascus, where the leadership-in-exile sits, has held intensive talks with senior Egyptian security officials over the past four days in an effort to finalize a long-term truce with Israel, to replace the ceasefires declared Jan 18 ending a three-week-long Israeli offensive in the salient.

Earlier reports had indicated that Hamas and other Palestinian factions were slated to declare a one-year ceasefire with Israel Thursday.