LIVE UPDATES: Operation Protective Edge, day 39
EU willing to reactivate Gaza crossing mission; Hamas negotiators meet with leadership in Qatar to discuss truce proposal.
The security cabinet reconvened Friday morning after a three-hour meeting on Thursday to discuss the ongoing negotiations for a long-term truce in Gaza. The ministers were briefed, but no decisions have been made.
Israel and the Palestinians Wednesday night agreed to extend the Gaze cease-fire by five days in attempt to reach a more permanent agreement, with Cairo as a mediator.
On Wednesday, Egypt presented a cease-fire proposal to both parties, which was aimed at ending the five-week long Gaza conflict, according to Palestinian officials.
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8:27 P.M. The European Union on Friday said it was willing to reactivate an EU mission on the Egypt-Gaza border to help stabilize the Palestinian enclave after weeks of war. At talks in Brussels, foreign ministers representing the 28 EU countries welcomed a ceasefire in Gaza and said they could relaunch the EU Border Assistance Mission for the Rafah crossing point (EUBAM Rafah) and possibly expand its scope.
"The EU is ready to support a possible international mechanism endorsed by the U.N. Security Council, including through the reactivation and possible extension in scope and mandate of its EUBAM Rafah," a statement following the EU meeting said.
EUBAM started to monitor the Rafah crossing point - the main window on the world for Gaza's 1.8 million Palestinians - in 2005 as part of an accord aimed at easing Israeli security concerns after it pulled its troops and settlers from Gaza.
However, the operation was halted two years later when Hamas militants seized control of the coastal enclave and ousted the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.
To help reactivate the mission, the EU foreign ministers said they also supported the launch of a training program for Palestinian Authority customs personnel and police for redeployment in Gaza. (Reuters)
5:37 P.M. Hamas negotiators met with the Islamic militant group's leadership in Qatar on Friday to discuss a proposal for a long-term truce with Israel, with an official saying the group was inclined to accept the Egyptian-mediated offer. (AP)
11:37 A.M. The security cabinet meeting that convened Friday morning ends. A senior official says the ministers were briefed on the negotiations with the Palestinians in Cairo, but no decisions have been made. (Barak Ravid)
8:27 A.M. Israeli forces arrest a Hamas operative in Bethlehem overnight. The suspect was lightly wounded by gunfire after he tried to flee the arrest. (Gli Cohen)
12:25 A.M. British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday to discuss ongoing cease-fire efforts in Gaza.
Cameron reiterated his support for Israel's right to self-defense, and emphasized that "both sides would need to take the necessary but sometimes difficult steps to achieve" a permanent cease-fire.
Cameron added that "a genuine peace deal was the only way to allow Palestinians and Israelis to live alongside one another, free from terror." (Barak Ravid)
11:44 P.M. The long-term truce being negotiated in Cairo calls for Israeli recognition of a Palestinian government that includes Hamas, a senior Egyptian official told Haaretz on Thursday. Also, Hamas and Islamic Jihad delegates to the Cairo talks said the emerging truce carries no time limit, lifts the blockade on Gaza, and includes talks on construction of a Gazan seaport and airport within a month after the deal is signed. In addition, they said Israel asked Egyptian mediators to take its demand for the demilitarization of the Strip to the Palestinian negotiators, but the Egyptians declined. (Zvi Bar'el) Read the full article
11:33 P.M. The Israeli peace camp will hold a demonstration on Saturday in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, a week after police banned a similar demonstration. (Jonathan Lis)
11:30 P.M. The U.S. State Department confirmed Thursday that the Obama administration was taking extra care in supplying weapons to Israel in the wake of Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip.
Deputy State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said that the U.S. was concerned about civilian deaths in Gaza. "We thought Israel could do more to prevent civilian casualties," she said. "Due to the crisis in Gaza we took additional care like we would take in any crisis. We took steps to look at (munitions) deliveries. … We wanted to look at things a little bit harder."
Harf tried to minimize the significance of the move, saying this wasn't an extraordinary measure. There was "no change in policy" regarding the U.S. supply of arms to Israel, she said, adding, "The additional care we are taking is not permanent. …The U.S. commitment to Israel's security is unshakable." (Barak Ravid) Read full article here
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