Israel sees no need for another Gaza ceasefire: official

Israel sees no need for another Gaza ceasefire: official

PanARMENIAN.Net - Israel sees no need for another Gaza ceasefire, an Israeli official was quoted as saying on Monday, July 28, as tensions between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government and Washington flared over U.S. mediation to end the almost three-week-old war, Reuters reported.

Fighting had subsided over the weekend, with the battered Palestinian enclave's dominant Hamas Islamists endorsing a UN call for a 24-hour halt ahead of Monday's Eid al-Fitr festival.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited the region last week to try to stem the bloodshed, his contacts with Hamas - which Washington formally shuns - facilitated by Egypt, Turkey, Qatar and Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

U.S. President Barack Obama, phoning Netanyahu on Sunday, put pressure on Israel to hold fire unconditionally and appeared to link its core demand for Hamas to be stripped of cross-border rockets and infiltration tunnels to a peace accord with the Palestinians that is nowhere on the diplomatic horizon.

"The President stressed the U.S. view that, ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza," the White House said.

It added that while Obama wanted any truce to be along the lines of an Egyptian deal that ended the last Gaza war, in November 2012, the United States also supported "regional and international coordination to end hostilities".

Israel did not immediately respond nor publish what, if anything, was decided at the overnight security cabinet session, Reuters says.

But Israel Radio quoted an unidentified government official as saying: "There is no need for any more ceasefires. Let Hamas stop firing first."

Speaking on Sunday, Netanyahu sounded open to easing conditions for the Gaza Strip's 1.8 million Palestinians but said this must be "intertwined" with disarming Hamas.

"I think you can't get social and economic relief for the people of Gaza without having an assured demilitarization," he told CNN.

Israeli air, sea and ground attacks have killed some 1,031 Palestinians, mainly civilians and including many children, Gaza officials say. Israel says 43 of its soldiers have died, along with three civilians killed by rocket and mortar fire from Gaza.

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