Israel’s Security Cabinet accepts Egyptian ceasefire


Israel’s security cabinet this morning approved an Egyptian-initiated ceasefire, which aims to facilitate talks on a more substantial agreement to end hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

Reports of Egypt’s ceasefire initiative emerged late yesterday evening and the cessation of hostilities comes into effect from 9am local time. It comes a week after Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, to quell persistent rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. During the past week, around one thousand rockets have been fired at Israel and a reported 170 Palestinians have died.

The ceasefire is intended as a prelude to further negotiations within 48 hours between representatives of Israel and Hamas, convened by Egypt. The outline of Egypt’s proposal would see Israel end air strikes on Gaza and refrain from any ground incursion, while Hamas would put an end to all types of attacks on Israel, including by rockets, sea and underground tunnels. The proposal also aims to open border crossing and increase the flow of goods from Israel to Gaza.

Israel’s Security Cabinet approved Egypt’s proposal, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett the only two to vote against the ceasefire. Bennett apparently called the proposal “good for Hamas and bad for Israel.” Meanwhile, opposition and Labour Party head Isaac Herzog is quoted saying, “If the cease-fire doesn’t lead to forward movement in the peace process it is useless.”

Despite Israel’s support for the initiative, early indications suggest that Hamas may not agree to the ceasefire. Hamas’s armed wing last night rejected the proposal, calling it “surrender and capitulation.” An unnamed senior Israeli official told Haaretz this morning that if Hamas continues to fire rockets during the ceasefire, “Israel will respond forcefully.”

Yesterday, Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons “there is an urgent need for a ceasefire … that ends both the rocket fire and the Israeli operations against Gaza.” Conveying similar sentiments, US President Obama said yesterday “We’re going to continue to do everything we can to facilitate” a ceasefire.