Update: Clinton says will work with Israel, Egypt on Gaza truce

Update: Clinton says will work with Israel, Egypt on Gaza truce

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Tue, 20/11/2012 - 23:54

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday night she would work with Israel and Egypt on brokering a truce in Gaza "in the days ahead."

Clinton thanked President Mohamed Morsy for Egypt's role in ceasefire negotiations between Hamas and Israel during a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"As a regional leader and neighbor, Egypt has the opportunity and responsibility to continue playing a crucial and constructive role in this process," she said.

"President [Barack] Obama asked me to come to Israel with a very clear message: America's commitment to Israel's security is rock-solid and unwavering, that is why we believe it is essential to de-escalate the situation in Gaza." she continued. "The rocket attacks from terrorist organizations inside Gaza on Israeli cities and towns must end and a broader calm restored. The goal must be a durable outcome that promotes regional stability and advances the security and legitimate aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians alike."

"President Obama has emphasized these same points in his multiple conversations with President Morsy of Egypt, and we appreciate President Morsy's personal leadership and Egypt's efforts thus far," she said. 

A Hamas official said on Tuesday that Egyptian efforts to broker a truce with Israel had been held up because the Israeli government had yet to respond to proposals, indicating there would be no ceasefire until Wednesday at the earliest.

"The Israeli side has not responded yet, so we will not hold a [news] conference this evening and must wait until tomorrow," Ezzat al-Rishq, a senior Hamas leader, told Reuters. "The truce is now held up because we are waiting for the Israeli side to respond," he added in a short telephone interview.

Earlier Tuesday, Israeli government spokesperson Mark Regev told CNN that a ceasefire deal has not been finalized and the "ball is still in play." 

"Until you're there, you're not there," he said.

A Hamas official said earlier that an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire will go into effect later on Tuesday.

"An agreement for calm has been reached. It will be declared at 9:00, and go into effect at midnight," Hamas official Ayman Taha told Reuters from Cairo, where efforts had been under way to end seven days of hostilities.

Morsy said Israel's “aggression” against Gaza will end and Cairo-mediated efforts will produce “positive results” within hours, the official MENA news agency reported Tuesday afternoon.

“The farce of the Israeli aggression will end today, Tuesday, and the efforts to reach a ceasefire between the Palestinians and Israelis will produce positive results within a few hours,” it quoted him as saying.

A Hamas official said chief Khaled Meshaal and his negotiators were currently in a meeting with the Egyptian intelligence chief mediating the talks. “But it's no secret we're on the verge of an agreement,” he said.

He said Hamas was still insisting Israel lift its six-year blockade of the Palestinian enclave for a truce, although it was not clear whether the Jewish state has agreed to this.

Israel on Tuesday halted a threatened Gaza ground offensive to give the truce talks a chance, after an overnight meeting of senior Israeli ministers weighed the Egyptian proposal.