As part of Egypt’s efforts to halt the fighting between Hamas and Israel, Cairo proposed to the Palestinian organization’s leadership and to the Israeli government that they mutually stop the fire for 40 hours, after which a broader ceasefire agreement would be discussed — but Hamas rejected the offer, The Times of Israel learned from Israeli and Hamas sources.
The offer was presented to the deputy head of the Hamas political bureau, Moussa Abu Marzouk, by Egyptian intelligence officers last week. Abu Marzouk rejected it after a brief consultation with the terror group’s military wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam brigades, the sources said.
Israeli officials said they were open to the possibility of stopping the fighting for an agreed-upon period before negotiating the terms of a longer-term truce.
Egypt does not intend to publicly blame Hamas for Cairo’s failure in its efforts to reach a ceasefire, the sources said, but believes the Islamist organization will bear the responsibility for its refusal. The sources said the Egyptian proposal did not include an outline for a long-term truce, but did include various ideas that different officials – European, Egyptian, and others – were discussing with the goal of securing a ceasefire deal.
On Saturday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said his organization had not been presented with any ceasefire offers: “They didn’t present any plan or outline for a ceasefire,“ he said. According to Abu Zuhri, a temporary truce cannot be discussed so long as the “aggression continues.”
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi met Saturday with Tony Blair, a representative of the Middle East Quartet who also serves as the Egyptian leader’s economic adviser. The Egyptian foreign ministry spokesman, Badr Abed al-Ati, said Blair’s visit aimed to restore the 2012 ceasefire agreement that followed the Operation Pillar of Defense.
Egypt’s wishes to lead the Arab world in calling for Hamas and Israel to return to the 2012 agreement. Israel has said it is willing to accept the terms of that agreement, but Hamas has refused.
Egypt has made it clear to Hamas it is willing to open the Rafah border crossing under close monitoring conditions, including the presence of PA forces not only at the border crossing but also alongside the Gaza-Sinai border, to prevent smuggling attempts.