Hamas to respond to truce proposals Saturday: Egypt

CAIRO  – The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas is expected to give Egypt its response to proposals to reach a truce with Israel Saturday, Egypt’s state-run Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported Thursday.

Talks between Egyptian intelligence officials and a Hamas delegation ended Wednesday without a deal. Hamas said Israeli proposals for an agreement, carried through Egypt, were vague.

An unidentified Egyptian official told MENA the Hamas delegation “will come back to Cairo Saturday to inform the Egyptian officials of the final response.”

Hamas and Israel have held separate talks with Egyptian mediators on terms for a long-term truce after three weeks of Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip and Hamas rocket barrages on southern Israel.

Both sides declared separate ceasefires on January 18 but acts of violence have continued.

Hamas wants Israel and Egypt to reopen all Gaza’s border crossings so that people and goods can move freely. Gaza has been under blockade for most of the time since Hamas took power there in June 2007.

“We have received through the brothers in Egypt an Israeli offer. This offer has a lot of vagueness,” said Mohamed Nasr, a member of the Hamas delegation to Cairo.

“This offer does not talk about lifting the blockade,” he told the Arabic television station Al Jazeera.

He said the Egyptians needed time to relay Hamas’s questions to Israel.

Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said Wednesday the Israelis were offering to reopen the crossings at 70 percent capacity but said Hamas wanted a more precise definition of Israel’s commitment.

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