Barak and Olmert delay cabinet vote on Gaza Strip cease-fire
'Vagueness' of Hamas positions cited as reason for delaying vote over whether to accept truce.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Saturday canceled a political-security cabinet meeting slated for Sunday, in which a vote was to be held on whether or not to agree to a cease-fire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Olmert and Barak decided that due to the "vagueness" of Hamas' position in regard to the ceasefire, a cabinet vote on whether to accept it would be premature.
The cabinet meeting will be postponed until the following Sunday.
A senior state official on Friday stated that the demands Hamas stipulated for the ceasefire were very difficult, in light of the fact that the Organization would not be required to stop smuggling weapons in the Gaza Strip.
Senior Hamas officials have said that the Palestinian militant group would accept Israel's gradual opening of Gaza's border crossings as part of a truce deal, Israel Radio reported on Saturday.
This move would constitute a retreat by Hamas from its previous position, whereby it demanded the immediate opening of the crossings as condition for the Egyptian-brokered truce taking effect.
The officials stated that the Rafah Gaza-Sinai crossing would be included in this new offer, according to which the border terminals would be opened in accordance with a timetable to be set by both sides.
Hamas officials said that this new position illustrates their group's flexibility in efforts to reach a cease-fire with Israel. They said Hamas is waiting to hear Jerusalem's response to the new offer from Egyptian mediators.
On Monday, Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan accused Israel of putting obstacles in front of Egyptian efforts to achieve the ceasefire by refusing to open the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.
"The Rafah border must be opened as part of the calm," Radwan said, repeating Hamas' demand that Egypt open the crossing if Israel doesn't.