Israel National News (Link) - Hana Levi Julian (January 26, 2009)
The Hamas terrorist organization that rules Gaza has been warned by Egypt to accept a ceasefire proposal from Israel's current government before the sands of time run out on Israel Elections day, February 10.
According to a report published Monday in the Arabic-language newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat, Egyptian officials have warned Hamas it is likely that the Likud, headed by MK Binyamin Netanyahu, will lead the next government.
Sources quoted in the report said such a government would be unlikely to offer concessions as far-reaching as those currently on the table, which Egypt considers Hamas's "last opportunity for a good deal."
But Hamas on Sunday flatly rejected an Israeli proposal for a 10-year ceasefire that includes an agreement to completely open the crossings into the region in exchange for the freedom of kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit.
The Israeli proposal, as conveyed by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to the Hamas delegation in Cairo, also included the release of 1,050 Palestinian Authority terrorists and prisoners to sweeten the deal.
The Israeli proposal was presented by Defense Ministry director of diplomatic security Amos Gilad.
Speaking from Gaza, spokesman Ismail Radwan told reporters Sunday that such a long truce would "kill the resistance, which is the Palestinian people's legitimate right as long as the occupation continues to exist."
According to Monday's edition of the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat, however, Hamas rejected the Israeli proposal because the opening of the crossings was conditioned on the release of the kidnapped soldier.
The Hamas delegation that was in Cairo to discuss the matter with Suleiman countered with a demand that Israel completely open all of the Gaza crossings "at full production" and limit the ceasefire to 18 months.
A proposal to add Turkish monitors to the present cadre of European observers at the crossings managed to pass muster with the terrorist group.
The European observers are mandated under a 2005 agreement between Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, which also calls for the presence of security forces belonging to PA Chairman and rival Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas's personal guard.
Gaza-based Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha said the group rejects the presence of Israeli monitors at the crossings, and was noncommittal as to whether it would accept the presence of Fatah forces. "Hamas is the existing government in Gaza," Taha said. He added that the group continued to call for "a complete lifting of the blockade and an opening of all the crossings."