Egypt PM says Gaza truce deal may be close

Mon Nov 19, 2012 8:47am EST
 

By Edmund Blair and Nadia El-Gowely

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's prime minister said on Monday that an agreement brokered by Cairo to stop the fighting between Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza could be close.

"Negotiations are going on as we speak and I hope we will reach something soon that will stop this violence and counter violence," Prime Minister Hisham Kandil said in an interview in Cairo for the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit.

Israel launched an air campaign on Wednesday with the declared goal of deterring Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, from launching rockets at its southern communities.

Egypt is seeking to reinstate a ceasefire after an informal one it brokered in October collapsed.

"I think we are close, but the nature of this kind of negotiation (means) it is very difficult to predict," he said.

Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi had said on Saturday that there were "some indications" a ceasefire could be reached soon but said there were no firm guarantees.

"President Mursi is determined to play his role as a key player in the region and help mediate this," said Kandil, who visited Gaza on Friday to show Egypt's solidarity with the Palestinians.

Israel bombed dozens of suspected guerrilla sites in Gaza, ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement, on Monday and Palestinian rocket fire from the enclave eased off.   Continued...

 
Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike in Gaza City November 19, 2012. Israel bombed dozens of suspected guerrilla sites in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Monday and Palestinian rocket fire from the enclave dropped off as international efforts to broker a truce intensified. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem