Hamas reportedly accepts cease-fire proposal

Hamas reportedly accepts cease-fire proposal

JERUSALEM – Hamas officials reportedly agreed to an Egyptian cease-fire proposal, though it’s not clear whether Hamas’ leadership in Syria agrees.

Egyptian officials told Arabic-language media that a visiting Hamas delegation accepted the cease-fire proposal Wednesday after making some amendments and was returning to Damascus to brief Hamas leaders there. During the visit, Hamas officials met in Cairo with Egyptian intelligence officials, including intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

Osama Hamdan, Hamas’ representative in Lebanon, told Al-Jazeera TV that there are issues that still have not been resolved.

There was no immediate reaction to the news from Jerusalem, but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni were reportedly meeting to discuss the development. A top Israeli Defense Ministry official, Amos Gilad, is scheduled to travel to Cairo on Thursday to discuss the Egyptian cease-fire proposal.

Olmert and Barak reportedly have been at odds over whether to proceed further with the Gaza operation, according to Israel’s Ha’aretz daily. Barak favors a cease-fire, the newspaper says, while officials close to the prime minister have criticized cease-fire proposals and Barak’s support of a weeklong humanitarian cease-fire. This week, Olmert canceled a meeting with Barak and Livni, who also reportedly supports a cease-fire.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban-ki Moon went to Cairo on Wednesday to push for a Gaza cease-fire. He is scheduled to visit Israel on Thursday.

“I repeat my call for an immediate and durable cease-fire,” Ban said during a news conference following a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. “I ask that all those who have influence with any parties to this conflict, use all means to end the violence and to find a durable solution.”