Egyptian proposal ‘framework’ for Gaza truce: Kerry

President Obama with Secretary Kerry

President Obama with Secretary Kerry

CAIRO (AA) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday that an Egyptian proposal would be the “framework” for a ceasefire between Palestinian factions and Israel.

“There is a framework… to end the violence, and that framework is the Egyptian initiative,” Kerry said at a joint news conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry.

Cairo presented its ceasefire proposal last week amid a raging Israeli military offensive against the Gaza Strip, which has left at least 612 Palestinians dead – mostly civilians – since it began on July 7 with the stated aim of staunching Palestinian rocket fire.

The proposal, initially accepted by Israel, was turned down by Gaza-based resistance factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who said they were never consulted about the terms of the plan.

The initiative called on Israel to cease all hostilities in the Gaza Strip, halt all ground operations and refrain from targeting civilians.

It also called on Palestinian factions to cease hostilities against Israel, halt rocket fire and cross-border attacks and stop targeting civilians.

The overture further called for reopening Gaza’s closed border crossings and facilitating the movement of persons and goods in and out of the embattled coastal strip, once the security situation becomes stable on the ground.

Kerry said that Hamas would be responsible for its choices.

“Hamas has a fundamental choice to make; it is a choice that will have a profound impact for the people of Gaza,” he said.

“The Egyptians have provided a framework and a forum for them to be able to come to the table to have a serious discussion together with other factions of the Palestinians,” he added.

Egypt, which shares a border with both the Gaza Strip and Israel, has long played a mediating role between Israel and Palestinian factions.

But its relations with Hamas have deteriorated since the ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the army last summer.

Earlier this year, an Egyptian court banned Hamas – an ideological offshoot of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood group – from operating in the country.

Israel’s ongoing operation, dubbed “Operation Protective Edge,” is the self-proclaimed Jewish state’s third major offensive against the densely-populated Gaza Strip – which is home to some 1.8 million Palestinians – within the last six years.

In 2008/9, over 1500 Palestinians were killed in Israel’s three-week-long “Operation Cast Lead.”

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