'Lasting' ceasefire agreed for Gaza, Abbas says
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Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas announced Tuesday that a "lasting" ceasefire deal had been reached with Israel to end the seven-week-long conflict in Gaza. An Israeli official confirmed that a truce deal had been reached.
"We announce the Palestinian leadership's agreement to Egypt's call for a comprehensive and lasting truce, beginning at 7pm (4pm GMT) today," Abbas said in a televised address at the start of a leadership meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
An Israeli official confirmed that a deal on an "unlimited" truce had been reached.
"Israel has accepted an Egyptian proposal for a complete and unlimited-in-time ceasefire. Israel accepted already the Egyptian proposal on July 15. Israel has always supported an unconditional, open-ended ceasefire," the official told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
A senior Palestinian official earlier said the truce deal had been finalised after two days of intensive shuttle diplomacy by Azzam al-Ahmed, the head of the Palestinian delegation to the truce talks.
"Over the past 48 hours, he has been shuttling between the leadership of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, all the factions, and Egyptian leaders, travelling between Ramallah, Gaza, Doha overseas," he told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Ziad Nakhala, a senior official in Islamic Jihad, said the deal includes an Israeli agreement to ease its blockade of Gaza to allow relief supplies and construction materials into the war-battered territory.
Talks on more divisive issues, such as Hamas’ demand for a reopening of Gaza’s airport and its seaport, would begin in a month, Nakhala said.
Hamas hails 'victory'
Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade on Gaza after Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. Under the restrictions, virtually all of Gaza's 1.8 million people cannot conduct trade or travel, with only a few thousand able to leave the coastal territory every month.
If the details of the truce are confirmed, it would mean Hamas and Islamic Jihad settled for terms similar to those that ended more than a week of fighting with Israel in 2012. Under that agreement, Israel promised to ease its restrictions on Gaza gradually, while Hamas pledged to stop firing rockets at Israel from the territory. The truce held for long stretches but Gaza’s border blockade remained largely in place.
Hamas leaders hailed the deal as a "victory for the resistance".
"The negotiations with an agreement which embodies the resistance of our people and a victory for the resistance," Hamas's exiled deputy leader, Mussa Abu Marzuk, wrote on his Facebook page.
Seven weeks of Hamas rocket attacks and Israeli air strikes have left more than 2,000 people dead in the conflict.
(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)
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