Israel rejects insufficient Egyptian truce proposal

Monday, May 12, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

Israeli leaders on Monday told visiting Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman that they could not endorse a proposal he had drawn up for a temporary ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip because it failed to demand a halt to Gaza arms smuggling and the release of an Israeli soldier being held in the territory.

In his meeting with Suleiman, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert echoed what his security cabinet ministers had told him earlier in the day, stating that an agreement that allowed Hamas and allied terror groups to continue strengthening themselves militarily would only be setting the stage for more intense violence in the future.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak also met with the Egyptian, and stressed that for Israel, the release of abducted IDF Corporal Gilad Shalit is "a central component of stabilizing the situation in the Gaza Strip."

Earlier in the day, senior defense officials cited by Israel's Ynet news portal said Suleiman's visit was a last ditch effort to avoid a major Israeli military incursion into Gaza in response to escalating rocket fire.

In their meeting, Barak confirmed to Suleiman that Israel will not continue to show restraint in the face of Hamas aggression much longer.

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