Egypt in Gaza Truce Bid as Rocket Hits Tel Aviv

NEW YORK | Friday, November 16th, 2012 3:45am EDT

Egypt tried to reach peaceful agreement in Gaza on Friday, but hopes for even a brief ceasefire were immediately ruined.

Egypt in Gaza Truce Bid as Rocket Hits Tel Aviv 01

Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil arrived at the territory on Friday to show support for the Palestinian people and meet with Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, following two days of relentless attacks by Israeli warplanes determined to end militant rocket fire at Israel. Photo: teleSURtv/Flickr

A Palestinian official told reporters on the condition of anonymity that Kandil’s visit “was the beginning of a process to explore the possibility of reaching a truce. It is early to speak of any details or of how things will evolve”.

“The Palestinian people sacrifice martyrs everyday in the fight for its rights,” Kandil said at a press conference jointly held with Haniyeh outside Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital. “Egypt will stand by the Palestinian people until they attain all their legitimate rights.”

As Reuters writes, Kandil went on, adding that his visit was the first of many to be made by Egyptian delegates.

“This tragedy cannot pass in silence and the world should take responsibility in stopping this aggression,” he said, urging Israel to abide by its commitments.

He further stated that “Egypt is acting in multiple arenas to put an end to the aggression, bring peace and establish a Palestinian state.”

In a televised address to the nation on Thursday Egypt’s new Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, said Israel’s attacks on the Gaza Strip were “unacceptable” and would destabilize the region.

“We are in contact with the people of Gaza and with Palestinians and we stand by them until we stop the aggression and we do not accept under any circumstances the continuation of this aggression on the Strip,” he said.

According to an Israeli official, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has earlier warned Egypt that Israel would be prepared to suspend its military offensive in the Gaza Strip during the Egyptian prime minister’s visit there.

On the condition of anonymity the official in the Netanyahu’s office said Israel would do so if Gaza terrorists also hold their fire during Kandil’s visit Friday. The official said Netanyahu was acting on an Egyptian request.

Home Front Defense Minister Avi Dichter said while visiting Sderot on Friday that Israel won’t risk hurting the visiting prime minister.

“We will not endanger the life of the Egyptian prime minister in any way,” he said. “The goal is to restore deterrence. We want to ensure that before someone fires on Israel, their hands will tremble.”

The Egyptian prime minister’s visit to Gaza comes the after President Obama called to the Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, urging him not to take any action that could worsen relations with Israel and threaten the Camp David peace accords.

“The American focus is getting the Egyptians to pull Hamas back, and making sure the Egyptians themselves do not do anything precipitous that could seriously damage the peace accords,” said a western diplomat in the region.

“The Americans recognise that there has to be a certain latitude for Morsi because he faces his own pressures to take a tougher stand with Israel.”

“But they want to make sure it doesn’t get to a point where the peace accords are under threat, and an escalation in Gaza could push it down that path. Washington is co-opting the Egyptians into making peace not only to get Hamas to rein it in, but to stop the Egyptians themselves from taking it over the cliff.”

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