Hamas was still debating an Egyptian-proposed Gaza cease-fire on Tuesday, a top official said, hours after Israel's security cabinet accepted the proposal.
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"We are still in consultation and there has been no official position made by the (Hamas) movement regarding the Egyptian proposal," Moussa Abu Marzouk, who was in Cairo, said in a Facebook posting.
Despite declarations made by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in opposition to the Egyptian cease-fire proposal on Tuesday morning, Palestinian sources told Haaretz that it is possible that in the next few hours Hamas' political leadership will hold direct talks with Egyptian intelligence in an effort to accept the cease-fire proposal.
Hamas' political chief Khaled Meshal or his deputy Ismail Haniyeh is expected to release an official statement later Tuesday. The statement depends on how the talks between Hamas' leadership and Egypt progress in the coming hours.
Earlier Tuesday, sources in Hamas and Islamic Jihad announced that Israel's acceptance of the cease-fire agreement is an empty gesture, since Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip are continuing. Senior members of the two organizations downplayed the significance of the Egyptian initiative, and the possibility that a cease-fire would meet their demands. These demands include lifting the siege on Gaza, ending the military activity in the West Bank, the release of all those rearrested after being released in the Shalit prisoner exchange, and the improvement of the conditions of the Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
Osama Hamdan, head of the Hamas international relations department, said Tuesday on the Hamas website that Israel's decision was an "attempt to escape the distress the Palestinian resistance has put them in," adding that Israel "must agree to the demands of the factions to enable discussions on a real cease-fire." Abu Imad Rifai, a Beirut spokesman for Islamic Jihad, cautioned that the Israeli announcement may be a trick intended to escalate the siege on Gaza and the pressure on Gaza militants.