The five-day extension of the cease-fire in place to facilitate negotiations for a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas remained intact Saturday, with no exchanges of fire being reported.
Israel's security cabinet reconvened Friday morning after a three-hour meeting on Thursday to discuss the ongoing negotiations in Cairo. The ministers were briefed on the progress of the negotiations which seek to bring an end to Operation Protective Edge, which was in its fifth week, but no decisions were made.
A three-day cease-fire in place since midnight Sunday was extended by a further five days on Wednesday night. Rocket-fire from the Gaza Strip toward Israel that night and retaliating Israeli air strikes threatened to scuttle the fragile truce, but, by Thursday morning, calm was restored to the border.
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Latest updates [Saturday]:
8:25 P.M. Offers made to the Palestinian delegation in Cairo do not meet the aspirations of the people, said Hamas's head of foreign affairs, Osama Hamdan, raising doubts about the chances of reaching a truce with Israel in the Cairo-brokered talks.
Hamdan said on his official Facebook page on Saturday: "Israel must accept the demands of the Palestinian people or face a long war."
Israel launched its military campaign on July 8 to quell cross-border rocket fire from Hamas in Gaza. The United Nations said 425,000 of 1.8 million population of Gaza have been displaced by the war, which has killed more than 1,900 Palestinians and 67 Israelis.
5:00 P.M. According to a report published Friday in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Shorouk, Egypt has put forth a "final proposal" to the Palestinians and Israelis, to which they must respond either positively or negatively. The report adds that Egypt is unwilling to make further changes to the proposal. However, as with previous proposals, Egypt will likely accept any agreement that is reached by the two sides so long as it does not harm Egyptian interests.
Under the proposal, the report says, the sides commit to not taking any actions against the other via "sea, air or land," while the Palestinian factions promise not to dig tunnels that cross the borders of the Gaza Strip and lead toward Israeli communities.
As for the border crossings, the report stated that “all crossing between Israel and Gaza would be opened in a manner that would end the blockade and allow the free movement of goods and people, and materials for rebuilding Gaza, and the transfer of goods between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in accordance with previous agreements between the Israeli authorities and the Palestinians.”
These authorities would also coordinate “all the financial matters concerning Gaza,” the report said, referring to salaries for Hamas officials.
The Al-Shorouk report also stated that under the agreement, the buffer zone near the Israel-Gaza border would be constricted to 300 meters and, later, on November 18, to 100 meters, while on January 1, Palestinian Authority forces would deploy on the Gaza border.
Israel, according to the reported proposal, would agree to gradually expand the fishing zone for Gaza fisherman to 12 nautical miles off the coast, and would also participate in international efforts to rebuild Gaza. (Zvi Barel)
4:30 P.M. A pro-peace demonstration will be held at 8 P.M. Saturday at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square. The rally's organizers urge demonstrators to arrive early in light of the large deployment of Israel Police forces and the strict security arrangements for the event. (Haaretz)
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