Israel accepted Tuesday an Egyptian-sponsored plan to halt more than a week of hostilities between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas but the plan has not been signed off by Hamas, which earlier rejected the proposal.
The plan accepted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office went into effect at 9 a.m. local time and calls for a cease-fire to begin within 12 hours of “unconditional acceptance” by the sides, followed by the opening of Gaza’s border crossings and talks in Cairo within two days.
Abu Zuhri, a senior Hamas official, said the proposal is not acceptable to Hamas. The military wing of Hamas, Izzedine al-Qassam, said in a statement on the Hamas website that the proposal “does not deserve the ink it was written with.”
But even without Hamas acceptance, the offer by Egypt marks the first sign of a breakthrough in international efforts to end the conflict.
In Washington, President Obama welcomed the proposal to stop the bloodshed. “We’re going to continue to do everything we can to facilitate a return to the 2012 cease-fire,” Obama said at a White House dinner Monday night celebrating the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. “We are encouraged that Egypt has made a proposal to accomplish that goal,” he said.
With at least 185 people dead — all on the Palestinian side — in a week of heavy fighting both sides have come under increasing pressure to halt the fighting.