Special Report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts
Palestinian children play on the beach in Gaza City at sunset, Feb. 14, 2009. Israel rejected a 18-month ceasefire with Hamas and wants an open lull not limited by time, the Islamic Hamas movement on Saturday said. (Xinhua/Wissam Nassar)
GAZA, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) officials Saturday ruled out setting up a specific date for declaring an 18-month Egyptian-brokered truce with Israel.
Earlier reports said declaring a truce was imminent.
Spokesman of deposed Hamas government Taher al-Noono
said in a statement sent to reporters that "truce talks with the Egyptian
officials are still going on, and setting up a specific date for a truce
declaration is still unknown."
"The major problem is that Israel links between
reaching a truce and releasing captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. We insist
that the issue of the truce and the issue of Shalit are totally two separate
issues," said al-Noono.
The office of outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud
Olmert had earlier said in a statement that Israel would not accept a long-term
truce with Hamas until Shalit is freed.
"We reiterate that there is no link between the two
issues. Each issue has its own terms," al-Noono, who is currently in Egypt with
a senior Hamas delegation.
"The talks held in Cairo today and in the previous
days hadn't linked the two issues," he said.
The aim of the 18-month truce that Hamas had accepted
is to stop firing rockets at southern Israeli towns and communities for easing a
two-year tight blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip and reopening its border
"Our demands are three clear demands: an
18-month-truce, ending the air, sea and ground attacks on the Gaza Strip and
reopening all the border crossings to allow the needed materials and goods for
its population," said al-Noono.
He added that the Hamas delegation would continue its
talks with the senior Egyptian intelligence officials within the coming days
until all details become clear for their people.
Meanwhile, Hamas lawmaker Mushir el-Masri told reporters in Gaza that he expected an Egyptian-brokered truce to be declared within the coming few hours "unless Israel puts new obstacles before the truce's declaration."