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Jun 17, 2008

Israel agrees to Gaza ceasefire

Israel has approved a ceasefire to end months of bitter clashes with the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza, Israeli officials have confirmed.

The decision was taken following the return of a defence official, Amos Gilad, from Cairo, where he held talks with Egyptian mediators.

The truce is scheduled to begin at 0600 (0300 GMT) on Thursday.

Hamas, which controls Gaza, says it is confident all militants will abide by the agreement.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007, driving out forces loyal to Fatah, the political faction led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Since then, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the international community have sought to isolate Hamas.

Two-stage deal

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defence Minister Ehud Barak approved the ceasefire agreement with Hamas overnight after they were briefed by Mr Gilad on his return from Cairo, Israel Radio said.

0600 (0300 GMT) Thursday ceasefire begins
After 24 hours, Israel eases crossing restrictions
After five days, Israel opens commercial crossings
After two weeks, Egypt starts talks with all sides to seek reopening of Rafah crossing

The station said Mr Gilad had received assurances from Egypt that Hamas accepted all of Israel's conditions for the truce.

As well as a halt to all hostilities on Thursday morning, the deal envisages a partial reopening of Gaza's borders.

A second stage would focus on the return of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and on a deal to reopen the Rafah crossing into Egypt.

An Israeli security source told Israel Radio that the negotiations on Cpl Shalit's release were expected to resume with a few days.

He said that if progress was achieved, Israel would have to reach a decision regarding the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Visibility: Everyone
Posted: Tuesday June 17, 2008, 11:21 pm
Tags: israel hamas [add/edit tags]

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