Cairo becomes hub of diplomatic push
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Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni rejected EU calls for a ceasefire, saying "we are not reaching an agreement with terror". Hamas sent delegates to Cairo on Monday; French President Nicolas Sarkozy also arrived as part of his push for peace.
FRANCE 24 with wires - Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Monday rejected calls by visiting EU diplomats for an immediate truce to the war in Gaza, saying Israel was aiming to change the "equation in this region."
"We are fighting with terror and we are not reaching an agreement with terror," she said, in reference to the Islamist Hamas rulers of the Gaza.
"Israel acted in a manner.... to change the equation that Hamas kept before the military operation.... that Hamas targets Israel whenever it likes and Israel shows restraint," she said after talks with senior EU diplomats.
"This is no longer going to be the equation in this region," she said. "When Israel is being targetted, Israel is going to retaliate."
The foreign minister of the Czech Republic, which currently holds the rotating EU presidency, repeated the bloc's call for an immediate halt to Israel's deadly offensive on Hamas in Gaza.
"We presented the Israeli foreign minister with the view of the European Union that a ceasefire should be established as soon as possible as... that rockets have to stop," Karel Schwarzenberg told reporters in the joint media conference.
"We are not sharing the view that a ceasefire is only possible if all... aims of the Israeli actions are achieved," he said. "We do think that the ceasefire should be as early as possible."
Israel faces intense international pressure to agree a ceasefire and ease the suffering of the Gaza population which has no power or water supplies and endures a daily struggle to get food, according to aid agencies.
Israel agreed to let food and fuel into Gaza but scores of trucks were stuck at the border as the military said no one turned up to receive the supplies.
Aid agencies said they were scrambling to organise a convoy on the Palestinian side where many people fear to venture out during the Israeli raids.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy was to hold talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders on ways to reach a ceasefire.
An EU ministerial delegation and a Russian envoy were also in the region. US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice called off a trip to China because of the Gaza crisis.
Sarkozy was to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Jerusalem and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas in Ramallah, after first meeting with Egyptian counterpart, Hosni Mubarak, in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, whose country holds the EU presidency, headed another delegation to the Middle East, while Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's Middle East envoy, Alexander Saltanov, held talks with Abbas.
The European Union and Russia are both part of the Middle East diplomatic Quartet, along with the United Nations and the United States.
Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek said he had a plan aiming to at least suspend the Gaza fighting which he had already discussed with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He said he would also outline it to US President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Sunday that he would be working with the key players on ways to end the violence.
The Israeli offensive has sparked spiralling anger in the Muslim world and protests across the globe.
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