CAIRO, Nov 19 (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
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
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.
The prime minister said Egypt was in contact with both
Israeli and Palestinian officials, and with other regional and
international players, including Turkey and Qatar, as well as
the United States, Britain and Germany.
"There are exchanges of visits and talks with both sides and
there is also communications with various leaders from the
region," he said.
Separately on Monday, another Egyptian official, who
declined to be identified, said that Egypt was receiving
"encouraging signals" about a ceasefire and said both Israel and
Hamas were seeking guarantees.
"What we are trying to agree on is to achieve a ceasefire
and achieve some possible guarantees, and then later discuss
more guarantees," the official told Reuters.
Izzat Risheq, aide to Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal,
wrote on Facebook that Hamas would enter a truce only after
Israel "stops its aggression, ends its policy of targeted
assassinations and lifts the blockade of Gaza".
Listing Israel's terms, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon
wrote on Twitter: "If there is quiet in the south and no rockets
and missiles are fired at Israel's citizens, nor terrorist
attacks engineered from the Gaza Strip, we will not attack."
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