Hamas-Israel truce announced in Cairo

Ahram Online, Reuters, AFP, Wednesday 21 Nov 2012

At Cairo press conference, Egyptian FM and US secretary of state announce Hamas-Israel ceasefire, set to go into effect this evening

A Palestinian youth looks at Israeli troops during clashes in the West Bank city of Herbon (Photo: AP)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza-based resistance movement Hamas at a press conference in Cairo held Wednesday at 7:30pm (Cairo time).

The ceasefire was set to come into effect at 9pm.

US President Barack Obama thanked his Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Morsi on Wednesday for his role is negotiating a planned truce between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.

In a separate press conference held shortly after a truce reached between Israel and Hamas earlier in the evening on Wednesday went into effect 9pm Cairo Time, Khaled Meshaal, the head of Hamas's political bureau thanked Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi for mediating the agreement.

Meshaal, who was joined at the event by Ramadan Shalah, the secretary genera of the Palestinian Islamist Jihad movement, said that "the Palestinians will honour the truce as long as Israel does."

Israel destroyed tens of buildings, attacked media centres, in addition to killing more than 140 Palestinians in non-stop air strikes on heavily populated areas over the course of the past week.

5 Israelis died as a result of rockets fired by Hamas fighters into israel.

At the press conference, Amr commended the efforts of all parties involved in mediating the ceasefire agreement, including the Arab League and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

"Egypt has historically been committed to the Palestinian cause and continues to exert efforts aimed at finding a peaceful resolution to the war on Gaza," Amr asserted.

Clinton, for her part, expressed her gratitude to Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, with whom she met earlier on Wednesday, stating that the US "greatly welcomes" the truce.

"All rocket attacks must end and there must be an end to the violence," she stated. "We have to work together towards improving the conditions of the people of Gaza and provide security for the people of Israel."

She went on to assert that the truce would have a positive impact on the wider region, the peoples of which have a right to live in peace.

"We have to focus on reaching a solution in supporting regional stability," Clinton said.

Clinton also stated that it had been agreed – in extended discussions with Morsi, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas – that there was "no alternative" to establishing a viable peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

During discussions with US President Barack Obama, Netanyahu stated his readiness "to give a ceasefire with Hamas militants a chance," according to a statement from Netanyahu's office.

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