Kerry Travels to France for International Meeting on Gaza Cease-fire

Israel's security cabinet rejected Friday a cease-fire proposal brought forth by Kerry.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.Credit: AP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry leaves Cairo for Paris where he is scheduled to meet with European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and the foreign ministers of France, Britain, Germany, and Italy in order to promote a cease-fire in Gaza. The meeting will also be attended by the foreign ministers of Turkey and Qatar who are responsible for negotiating with Hamas

Israel's security cabinet rejected Friday a cease-fire proposal brought forth by Kerry. A senior Israeli official said that a last-minute effort is underway to amend the proposal as to address Israel's security demands, particularly in regards to the continued demolition of tunnels leading from the Gaza Strip to Israel.

Cabinet members began their meeting at 4:00 P.M. on Friday, with discussions extending into the Sabbath. The meeting was paused a number of times as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his advisers spoke on the phone with Kerry and his team.

Meanwhile, a senior Israeli official said Friday Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon are still discussing Ban Ki-moon and John Kerry's request for a 12-hour pause in Gaza fighting.

The senior Israeli official said that the feeling among the cabinet members was that Kerry's proposal was too close to Hamas' positions. "Kerry's offer emphasized the benefits Hamas is seeking, more than it gave priority to our security demands," he said. "Kerry's proposal was unacceptable."

It seems that the primary reason for Israel's rejection was the proposal's recent modification, which brought it closer to Hamas' position on future Israeli action against already-exposed tunnels once the cease-fire goes into effect. Hamas demands Israel cease all of its military operations, while Israel insists on carrying on its operations targeting the tunnels.

The senior Israeli official added that even though Kerry's initial offer was more problematic, Israel has not given up on the possibility of achieving a cease-fire. Discussions with Kerry continue in an attempt to improve its terms for Israel.

Kerry downplayed Israel's refusal saying: "Israel may have rejected some of the language in the cease-fire framework but we never gave them a formal proposal."

Meanwhile, France said on Friday it will host an international meeting on Saturday in order to reach a cease-fire agreement "as quickly as possible."

Representatives from the U.S., Britain, Germany, Italy, the EU, Turkey and Qatar will reportedly attend talks in Paris aimed at converging "all efforts" for reaching a cease-fire.

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