CAIRO, July 25 (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that there were still disagreements on the terminology for a Gaza truce and called for a seven-day humanitarian ceasefire for the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday next week.
“We are working toward a brief seven days of peace. Seven days of a humanitarian ceasefire in honor of Eid in order to be able to bring people together to try to work to create a more durable, sustainable ceasefire for the long (term),” Kerry told a news conference in Cairo.
Senior Hamas official Ezzat el-Rishiq who is in the group’s political wing based in Cairo said on his Twitter account that the seven-day ceasefire was “under study in motion.”
Another Hamas official Mohamed Nazzal told Aljazeera television that the current “initiative in this form is not acceptable at all.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri, standing with Kerry at the news conference, backed the call for a pause in fighting for Eid. Ban said it could start with an extendable 12-hour stoppage.
A U.S. official said later that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Kerry that Israel will begin a 12-hour pause in Gaza hostilities starting at 7 a.m. Israeli time (0400 GMT) on Saturday. The Israeli government did not immediately comment on the report.
The official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, made the comment when asked about Kerry’s statement that Netanyahu had inferred to him that Israel was willing to undertake a 12-hour pause in the fighting as a goodwill gesture.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu has indicated his willingness to do that as a good face down payment and to move forward,” Kerry said.
He also said that “serious progress” had been made on a truce but there was more work to do.
Israel may have rejected some language in a truce proposal draft, but there “was no formal proposal, or final proposal, or proposal ready (for) a vote submitted to Israel,” Kerry said.
“We still have some terminology … to work through, but we are confident that we have a fundamental framework that can and will ultimately work,” Kerry said. (Reporting By Arshad Mohammed, Yasmine Saleh and Ali Abdelaty; Writing by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall, Susan Fenton and Andrew Hay)
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