Arabic news sources cite Hamas official Ayman Taha as saying an Egyptian brokered truce is set to be declared in Gaza at 19:00 GMT, and will go into effect at 22:00 GMT. Israel says that a ceasefire deal has yet to be finalized.
A ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas is yet to be cemented, and the “ball is still in play”, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told CNN on Tuesday. “Until you’re there, you’re not there,” he said.
Regev’s statement conflicts with a previous statement by Hamas official Ayman Taha, who claimed that that an Egyptian-brokered truce had been finalized. An Egyptian source close to the negotiations confirmed that “up to this point there is no final decision,” Sky News cites him as saying.
Hamas’ political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal and his negotiators met with Egypt’s intelligence chief Raafat Shehata in Cairo in an effort to hammer out the final details of the cease-fire agreement on Tuesday.
Israel’s delegates were scheduled to return to Cairo to present Israel’s response to demands being made by Hamas. Senior Egyptian officials told Haaretz that a solution was near, but more flexibility was needed from the Israeli side.
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi announced earlier in the day that the “farce” of Israeli aggression would end on Tuesday.
“The efforts to reach a ceasefire between the Palestinians and Israelis will produce positive results within a few hours,” state news agency Mena cited him as saying.
Egypt has played an integral part in ongoing efforts to bring about a cessation of hostilities between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip.
The conflicting reports of a ceasefire deal come amidst international efforts to prevent a further escalation of violence in the region.
UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon arrived in Jerusalem on Tuesday to hold talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after a two-day stopover in Cairo. Netanyahu had early said Israel would be a “willing partner” in cease-fire. Ki-moon is also scheduled to hold talks with Palestinian officials Ramallah – in the West Bank.
Since the US has labeled Hamas a terrorist organization, Clinton is prohibited from engaging in direct contact with the movement’s officials. Washington has therefore been forced to rely on Egypt, Turkey and Qatar to act as go-betweens with the Hamas leadership in Gaza.
US President Barack Obama dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to the Middle East on the same day to aid in the peace efforts. Clinton is set to meet with the Israeli PM in Jerusalem, Palestinian officials in Ramallah and Egyptian leaders in Cairo.
Obama, who is returning from a diplomatic tour in Asia, has personally spoken to Morsi three times in the last 24 hours. He commended the Egyptian president’s efforts to ease hostilities between the two sides.
On Monday Netanyahu reportedly pushed back an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) ground invasion of Gaza by 24-hours in light of his scheduled meeting with Ki-Moon.
Fears that an imminent ground operation was being prepared were stoked after the IDF dropped flyers warning Gaza residents to evacuate “immediately” to Gaza City’s center. The IDF claims the Hamas interior ministry spokesman had urged his listeners to ignore the warnings.
After speaking with ki-Moon, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said that any ground incursion into Gaza would not be limited as it was during the 2008-2009 Gaza War.
“This would not be “Operation Cast Lead 2,” but “Operation Defensive Shield 2,” The Jerusalem Post cites Liberman as saying.
Despite the potential breakthrough, the violence showed no signs of abating after at least six Palestinians were killed in an airstrike that hit two cars, bringing Tuesday’s death toll to 13, RT’s Paula Slier reports.
At least 125 people have been killed in Gaza, including around 27 children, and four Israelis have also died since Israel began Operation Pillar of Defense with the assassination of Hamas military chief Ahmed Jabari on Wednesday.