Ceasefire Between Israel and Hamas Remains Elusive
After days of negotiations, Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said he expected a ceasefire agreement to take effect late Tuesday night. Hamas official Ayman Taha reported that, ”An agreement for calm has been reached. It will be declared at 9 o’clock (1900 GMT) and go into effect at midnight (2200 GMT).” However, Israeli officials have yet to confirm that a settlement has been agreed upon, while Israel’s Channel 2 reported that negotiators needed more time. “I prefer a diplomatic solution and I hope that we can get one, but if not, we have every right to defend ourselves with other means and we shall use them,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hamas has called for the termination of Israeli airstrikes and economic blockade of the Gaza Strip, while Israel has pushed for the end of rocket attacks and the resupply of Hamas weapons stockpiles.
A press statement from the U.S. State Department confirmed that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would travel to Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Cairo to engage with regional leaders in support of the “de-escalation of violence and a durable outcome that ends the rocket attacks on Israeli cities and towns and restores a broader calm.” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes added that the U.S. and Israel want to see the conflict ended “diplomatically and peacefully.” Both Secretary Clinton and President Barack Obama have been in close contact with their counterparts in the region over the last several days. Because the U.S. considers Hamas a terrorist organization, it is relying on Egypt, Turkey, and Qatar to deliver its message to the Hamas leadership in Gaza.