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Israel, Kerry openly at odds over ceasefire

As we reported late Friday, Israel and the United States are now in open disagreement, after the Israeli cabinet unanimously rejected the ceasefire offer drawn up by Kerry to halt 18 days of Israeli-Hamas conflict.

Kerry, speaking in Cairo, vowed to keep working on a ceasefire, and said Prime Minister Netanyahu is “committed” to working to narrow the gaps that are preventing a seven-day humanitarian ceasefire intended to lead to a longer-term deal. He also said Netanyahu had accepted an idea, proposed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, of a 12-hour humanitarian time out.

US Secretary of State John Kerry stands with Egypt's Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri during a press conference in Cairo, Friday, July 25, 2014. Kerry said he has not yet reached a deal between Israel and Hamas to call a 7-day humanitarian truce in the Israel-Hamas conflict but is continuing work. (AP Photo/Pool)
US Secretary of State John Kerry stands with Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri during a press conference in Cairo, Friday, July 25, 2014. Kerry said he has not yet reached a deal between Israel and Hamas to call a 7-day humanitarian truce in the Israel-Hamas conflict but is continuing work. (AP Photo/Pool)

But Israeli government sources told Army Radio the ceasefire terms proposed by Kerry were “completely unreasonable.” An unnamed senior Israeli government official flatly disputed Kerry’s assertion that his offer was “built on the Egyptian initiative” — which Israel accepted last week and Hamas rejected. In fact, the official was quoted saying, the Kerry offer is not built on the Egyptian proposal and tilts heavily toward Hamas.

The Army Radio report also highlighted that the US on Monday signed an $11 billion arms deal with Qatar, and noted that Qatar is championing Hamas’s demands in the ceasefire negotiations, and is also alleged by Israel to be financing Hamas’s rocket production, tunnel digging infrastructure, and other elements of its military infrastructure. The radio report also claimed that Ban Ki-moon “is flying around the region on a Qatari plane.”

Indications from the lengthy Israeli cabinet meeting that rejected Kerry’s offer Friday are that the ministers were incensed that the terms of the deal would not have enabled Israel to continue to locate and demolish a network of dozens of tunnels that Hamas has dug, up to a mile or more long, from under Gaza residential areas all the way beneath the Israeli border.

— Our full story on the Israel-Kerry standoff is here.

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