Israel won’t extend ceasefire if talks collapse
As of Monday night, halfway through the ceasefire, the rocket launchers and the guns were quiet.
In the talks being mediated by the Egyptians in Cairo it appeared that the two sides were approaching an agreement.
However, Israeli officials cautioned that they would not agree to an extension of this ceasefire if the talks collapsed for failure to reach agreement. Israel notified participants in the Cairo meetings that if a ceasefire extension was not agreed to before expiration of the current 72-hour deadline, set for Wednesday morning, it would not accept another ceasefire afterwards. Rather, it would recall the delegation from Cairo and resume military action against the terrorist organizations in Gaza.
From the few leaks coming out of the meeting rooms in Cairo, there were indications of a moderation of Hamas’ position out of a realization that they will not win all of their demands. Hamas is seeking to create the impression of victory with a partial acceptance of its list of demands.
The Egyptians have informed Hamas that they are willing to open the Rafiah crossing to residents of Gaza 24 hours a day, on condition that Mahmoud Abbas deploy about 1,000 of his security forces to check Gazans entering Egypt, while Egypt will reserve the right to check people entering Gaza from its side of the crossing.
Israel, for its part, said it would open the Erez and northern Gaza border crossings to an increased number of trucks carrying food and goods permitted into the Gaza Strip. If, until now, up to 350 trucks were allowed in daily, that could be raised to 500. On condition that Hamas will pay the costs of the merchandise and undergo security checks conducted by Israel to ensure that materials with potential military use, such as metal, concrete and chemicals, don’t enter Gaza.
Israeli delegates to the talks said on Monday, “We have said all we have to say about the various proposals and we have nothing to add. If somebody has a question, they know how to reach us by telephone.”
Sources in Israel were saying that there seems to have been progress in the talks, but it was hard to say what the outcome would be, if a viable agreement would be reached in time before the ceasefire runs out.