Egyptians’ Shuttle Diplomacy Continues While Border Heats Up

YERUSHALAYIM (AP/Hamodia) -

Egyptian mediators headed to Israel on Thursday to discuss a proposal for a new cease-fire plan between between Israel and Hamas.

Three Hamas officials familiar with the negotiations said the Egyptians offered the organization a series of measures to ease the Egyptian-Israeli blockade on Gaza.

They said this would include an expanded fishing zone for Palestinian anglers off the Mediterranean coast, increasing imports and exports in and out of Gaza, increased electricity from Israel and increased movement of people through Gaza’s border crossings.

In exchange, Hamas would have to pledge to halt rocket fire and keep protests along the Israeli border under control and far from the separation fence.

The officials say the deal would only take effect after a planned mass demonstration along the Israeli border on Saturday — a likely sticking point with the Israelis.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because the negotiations were ongoing. One of the officials described the atmosphere as positive.

Another official said the Egyptians were discussing the proposal with Israel on Thursday afternoon.

There was no immediate Israeli comment on the talks.

During a trip to the southern border region, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he was prepared to take further military action in Gaza, but only as a last resort.

“If we need a broader operation, we will enter it [Gaza] strong and confident, and after we have exhausted all other options,” he said.

Meanwhile, an Israeli drone shot at a group of Palestinians launching balloon-borne incendiary devices across the border from the northern Gaza Strip, injuring four of them, the army said.

A number of airborne arson and explosive devices have landed in Israeli fields near the Gaza Strip during the day.