Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

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Hamas ‘set for Gaza truce talks’

Posted by gaetanoditommaso su 25 gennaio, 2009

BBC NEWS

25 January 2009

Members of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas are due to meet Egyptian officials to discuss ways to shore up a fragile ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared a temporary halt to fighting a week ago, shortly after Israel announced a unilateral ceasefire.

Representatives from the rival Fatah faction are also due in Egypt to restart reconciliation talks.

About 1,300 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s 22-day operation in Gaza.

Thirteen Israelis, three of them civilians, were killed during the same period.

Egypt has long acted as a go-between for Israel and the Palestinians. Israel refuses to negotiate directly with Hamas, which it sees as a terrorist organisation.

Egypt’s state news agency says the Egyptian intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, will meet a delegation from Hamas, following his talks with an Israeli envoy in Cairo last Thursday.

The aim is to stabilise the ceasefire by reaching a truce agreement. To satisfy Hamas, this would have to include plans to reopen Gaza’s border crossings.

Israel and Egypt tightened their blockade of Gaza after Hamas took over the territory by force in mid-2007. They have said they will only open the gates if Hamas accepts the deployment of border monitors as a way of halting weapons smuggling, says the BBC’s Yolande Knell in Cairo.

Diplomatic flurry

Meanwhile in Brussels, European Union foreign ministers are to meet their Palestinian, Egyptian, Jordanian and Turkish counterparts to study ways to get wider Arab support for new Middle East peace moves.

The ministers will also assess the state of the ceasefire in Gaza and look at ways to improve the flow of aid.

President Obama’s special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, will travel to the region on Wednesday, officials said.

Mr Mitchell plans to meet leaders in Egypt, Israel, the West Bank and Jordan, but diplomats ruled out direct contacts with Hamas officials.

A Palestinian official who is close to the truce talks taking place in Cairo, said both Israel and Hamas would hold their fire as long as Egyptian mediation continued.

Aid appeals

Meanwhile in Gaza, schools and government ministries not destroyed in the bombing reopened on Saturday and international aid agencies jointly appealed for unhindered access to the Gaza Strip.

“All of us here today call for unhindered and open access to Gaza, for people, for goods and for commerce,” Tom Taurus of Save the Children told a news conference at Gaza’s Shifa hospital.

In a separate development in London, pressure is mounting on the BBC over its refusal to broadcast a charity appeal for the Gaza Strip, with the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, accusing the corporation of taking sides in the conflict.

Other British broadcasters have agreed to transmit the appeal, but the BBC’s director general, Mark Thompson, says doing so risks undermining public confidence in the corporation’s impartiality.

Israel said it launched its offensive on 27 December to stop cross-border rocket attacks by militants in Gaza against its civilians.

Rocket attacks claimed the lives of three Israeli civilians during the conflict. Ten soldiers were also among the dead.

Palestinian medical officials said about 1,300 Palestinians were killed and some 5,300 wounded in Israel’s land, sea and air assault.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7849630.stm

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