After three weeks of tank-shells and air strikes, the Palestinian faction Hamas has said it is willing to agree to a year-long renewable truce if Israel withdraws its troops within a week and Gaza border crossings are opened immediately.
After a day and a night of intense diplomatic effort, both sides appear to be edging closer to a ceasefire. Israel is to send its chief negotiator back to Cairo later today with what is thought to be its response to the proposal. Although Israel refuses to deal directly with Hamas, Egyptian mediators have been talking to both sides. Political analysts believe Israel has possibly set its own private deadline for a truce, that of Tuesday’s installation of Barack Obama as US president. Israel is reluctant to test support from the new administration too soon. After meeting UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is to travel to New York to finalise an accord designed to prevent Hamas re-arming. International opinion has been angered over Israel’s actions with renewed calls for it to respect a UN resolution to implement a truce and to allow in humanitarian aid.