Hamas rejects immediate ceasefire, Hammond to meet Netanyahu this morning


Hamas’s political leader Khaled Mashaal yesterday rejected calls for an immediate ceasefire and said that all of Hamas’s demands must first be met prior to a cessation of fighting.

Mashaal held a press conference in Qatar and said that, “Our demands for a truce” had been presented to Qatar, Egypt, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority (PA). Mashaal confirmed that, “Today we rejected an initiative that called for a cease-fire that would be followed by negotiations.” He insisted, “Everyone wanted us to accept a ceasefire and then negotiate … we reject this.” Last week, Hamas rejected an Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire proposal, supported by Israel which would have ended attacks by all sides prior to 48 hours of talks.

Yesterday, US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for two hours having also met with Israel’s President Shimon Peres and PA President Mahmoud Abbas. Following his meeting with Abbas, Kerry said there had been “some progress” in moving toward a truce. Meanwhile, US Deputy National Security Advisor Tony Blinken said in a radio interview that he hoped one of the results of a ceasefire “would be some form of demilitarisation.”

This morning, Netanyahu will meet with Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond who arrived in Israel late yesterday in order to boost the international push for a ceasefire. Hammond is also scheduled to travel to Ramallah to meet with Abbas today.

Yesterday, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) held an emergency session on the conflict in Gaza. The forum is renowned for its perennial criticism of Israel. During the session, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay criticised Hamas’s indiscriminate firing of rockets on Israeli civilians. She also said that there is a “strong possibility” that Israel had committed war crimes in Gaza and the forum resolved to establish an enquiry. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond joined Israeli officials in criticising the resolution, calling it “fundamentally unbalanced” and likely to “complicate” efforts to broker a ceasefire.