Tuesday, No: Is There A Truce In the Middle East — Or Just Confusion?

ImageToday, Hamas has claimed that there is a truce to take effect at 5pm EST. Israel is denying it. Is it possible that Hamas is citing this truce so that they may accuse Israel of violating it should they attack Gaza after the supposed time of the truce?

From Reuters:

An agreement for calm has been reached. It will be declared at 9 o’clock (1900 GMT) and go into effect at midnight (2200 GMT),” Hamas official Ayman Taha told Reuters from Cairo, where intensive efforts have been under way to end seven days of fighting.

From the New York Times:

Minutes after a Hamas official told Reuters that Palestinians and Israeli had agreed to an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire, a spokesman Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that no agreement had been reached yet.Mark Regev, the Israeli spokesman, told CNN that the negotiations are still going on.

There seems to be confusion, but perhaps progress. We will keep you posted on the latest efforts in the middle east.

UPDATE 1:05 PM EST: CNN is reporting that a Senior Hamas official says a “calming down” is to be announced at 2 p.m. ET, but it’s not an official cease-fire.

UPDATE 3:30 PM EST: CNN is now reporting that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Israel and heading for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

UPDATE 11:00 PM EST: AP reports:

Israel and the Hamas militant group edged closer to a cease-fire Tuesday to end a weeklong Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip, but after a day of furious diplomatic efforts involving the U.S. secretary of state, U.N. chief and Egypt’s president, a deal remained elusive and fighting raged on both sides of the border.

Israeli tanks and gunboats pummeled targets in Gaza in what appeared to be a last-minute burst of fire, while at least 200 rockets were fired into Israel. As talks dragged on near midnight, Israeli and Hamas officials, communicating through Egyptian mediators, expressed hope that a deal would soon be reached, but cautioned that it was far from certain.

“If there is a possibility of achieving a long-term solution to this problem by diplomatic means, we prefer that. But if not, then I am sure you will understand that Israel will have to take whatever actions are necessary to defend its people,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a late-night meeting with visiting Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

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