World Bulletin/News Desk
Egypt called on Israel and the Palestinian factions to begin a three-day ceasefire in Gaza starting at 0500 GMT on Tuesday, and invited them to dispatch senior delegations to Cairo for negotiations aimed at reaching a longer-term deal.
"We hope this will secure a permanent ceasefire and restore stability," the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Israel said agreed to the proposal for a three-day ceasefire.
"We agree to begin implementing the Egyptian initiative. If the ceasefire is upheld there will be no need for any presence of (Israeli) forces in the Gaza Strip," said an official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Israeli media reports said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet had reached the decision in a round of phone calls.
"Egypt has received very strong indicators on the acceptance by all parties of a 72-hour ceasefire starting at 5 a.m. GMT," one Egyptian source said.
"More delegations are due to arrive to Cairo soon to engage in the Egyptian initiative, which is mainly aimed at an immediate halt to the bloodshed through a comprehensive truce agreement."
Palestinian groups, including envoys of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, met the head of Egyptian intelligence in Cairo earlier in the day to formulate a plan to end the violence that has displaced more than one quarter of Gaza's 1.8 million people.
Immediately after the meeting, Egypt presented Israel with the key Palestinian demands: a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, an end to the blockade of the impoverished enclave and the reconstruction of the area.
An Egyptian diplomatic source said Cairo expected Israel to accept a temporary halt to the fighting to allow for talks.
Israel has yet to give a formal response to the ceasefire plan, but an Israeli official who declined to be named said it could accept a ceasefire without preconditions.
"If we receive a proposal based on the Egyptian plan of a ceasefire without preconditions which will include rehabilitation of Gaza in exchange for disarmament, Israel will consider this favourably with a view to accepting it," he said.
A Palestinian official affiliated with one of the resistance group said a temporary ceasefire would open the door to more comprehensive negotiations.
Media speculation that U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns would fly to Egypt to participate in indirect truce talks had not been borne out by Monday.
A U.S. embassy spokesman declined to say if or when Burns might arrive. A U.S. official in Washington said acting special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations Frank Lowenstein was on his way back from Cairo, suggesting the United States was following the talks closely.
Qatar has stayed out of the Egypt talks, but has continued consultations with Turkey and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry aimed at finding an end to the crisis should Egypt fail, a Gulf source and the Hamas official in Doha said.
For its part, Cairo might contemplate easing the limited freedom of movement across its own border with Gaza, but was unlikely to accept Palestinian calls to allow a normal flow of trade, Egyptian diplomatic sources said.
Egypt insists that any discussion over the Rafah border crossing take place bilaterally with the Palestinian Authority rather than as part of any overall deal between the Palestinians and Israel to ease the blockade, the sources said.Güncelleme Tarihi: 04 Ağustos 2014, 23:40