UN hosts Gaza truce talks

Progress reported over Egypt-French truce proposal for crisis but tensions remain.

    Rice said she had urged Israel to accept the
    Egypt-France proposal [AFP]

    Meanwhile the UN Libya delegation has reportedly distributed a new draft of their proposed resolution for other nations to study, Al Jazeera's Ghida Fakhry at the UN reports.

    At present some nations are asking for changes such as the inclusion of the Hamas by name, and a vote could be held as soon as tomorrow, she adds.

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    On Wednesday Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said at the UN that the US considered a ceasefire "necessary" and that she had impressed on Israeli and Arab ministers "the importance of moving [the] initiative forward''.

    However Rice reiterated her belief that any ceasefire "will not allow a return to the status quo".

    Mark Regev, spokesman for Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, said on Wednesday regarding the Egypt-French proposal: "We welcome the French-Egyptian initiative. We want to see it succeed," adding that talks would "continue on the basis of that initiative".

    "A sustainable calm in the south will be based upon the total absence of hostile fire from Gaza into Israel and an effective arms embargo on Hamas that enjoys  international support," he said.

    Speaking to Al Jazeera from Beirut, Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official, said: "The [Hamas] movement is now discussing its stance to the Egyptian initiative, keeping in mind that there are, in principle, a number of reservations on this initiative.

    While backing many elements of the Egyptian proposal, the US had earlier blocked a Libyan draft resolution that Washington and its allies see as anti-Israeli.

    The French government had initially said that Israel and the Palestinian Authority had accepted the Egypt-France proposal, but Israel and Hamas have said the proposal is still under discussion.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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