Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi said Tuesday that talks with Hamas were approaching a ceasefire deal on Gaza, Egyptian media reported. Israeli diplomatic sources said late in the day that negotiations were ongoing.
Egyptian and Hamas officials said they believed they could reach an agreement to end the week-long Gaza conflict on Tuesday but a truce hinged on Israeli assent to a Cairo-mediated ceasefire plan.
The officials qualified earlier remarks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad sources who said a truce would be announced on Tuesday night, and similar comments by Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi carried by the official news agency.
A senior Egyptian official said there were strong hopes the agreement would be reached overnight, depending on whether Israel gave its assent to the proposal.
Another Egyptian source close to the negotiations said "up to this point there is no final decision."
Frantic diplomatic efforts continue
"Egypt has sent the final proposal... and we are waiting for the final Israeli response," he said. "If there is agreement on this it means we are close to announcing a ceasefire."
A third Egyptian official told AFP that "the truce announcement is not expected tonight because we are still waiting for a response" from Israel.
An Israeli diplomatic source told AFP that negotiations were ongoing.
"We are working very hard using our diplomatic channels. We are working continuously. But I cannot give you an estimated time of arrival (of a truce)," the source said.
Hamas officials said the indirect negotiations were ongoing, but spoke of a breakthrough.
"Hamas confirms that until now, it has not received the Israeli response and asks all media not to rush," Sami Abu Zuhri, the movement's spokesman in Gaza, said in a statement.
He added the Egyptian presidency would make the definitive announcement of an agreement.
A senior Hamas official told AFP "the agreement is expected to crystallise in a few hours."
The main sticking point, he said, was whether Israel would begin easing its six-year long blockade of the Gaza Strip coinciding with the truce or at a later date.
"A compromise solution is for there to be agreement on lifting the siege, and that it would be implemented later at a specified time," he said.
An aide to Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal, who is in Cairo for truce talks, said the movement which rules the Palestinian territory was "still waiting for the Israeli response."
Hamas officials said they wanted Israel to lift its six-year-long blockade of the enclave if they were to agree an end to the week-long conflict that has killed 136 Palestinians and five Israelis.
The senior Hamas official said Israel had agreed in principle to easing the blockade.
Date created : 2012-11-20