Mubarak: Israel must end military operations at once, unconditionally. Israel reconsiders ceasefire

Cairo disavowed Saturday, Jan. 17 any understandings with Israel and the US on collaboration for ending the flow of weapons to Hamas and launched a fierce attack on Israel.
In a televised speech to the nation, hours before the Israeli defense cabinet was to announce a unilateral ceasefire ending the three-week Operation Cast Lead, President Hosni Mubarak said Israel must accept an “immediate unconditional ceasefire and a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip.” No international monitors would be allowed on Egyptian soil, he said.
His foreign minister Aboul Gheit said Israel was drunk on violence.
debkafile reports following the Egyptian assault, Jerusalem is weighing its options. One proposal is to leave Israeli troops in Gaza until Hamas stops firing rockets – around 20 each day.
The cabinet’s approval of a ceasefire was supposed to hinge on understandings with the US and Egypt for an end to the rocket fire and the flow of smuggled weapons to Gaza. debkafile‘s military sources report that Israeli forces will end up withdrawing eventually without achieving those goals.
The Egyptian foreign minister went on to contradict Friday’s statement by foreign minister Tzipi Livni in Washington that an understanding with Egypt to prevent the flow of weapons into Gaza was parallel to the memorandum she signed with US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.
“We have no commitment towards this memo whatsoever and it does not concern us” he told reporters, and called Israel “the main obstacle to a ceasefire.”
The Egyptian foreign minister went on to say the smuggling tunnels were used mainly for food – not arms.
Cairo’s sharp comments followed claims by Jerusalem sources of good progress in talks with Egypt on cooperation for ending the arms smuggling to Gaza.
debkafile‘s sources report that this was not the case, any more than Hamas was a party to any separate deal with Cairo for ending its rocket attacks on Israel.
A Hamas leader in Beirut Osama Hamdan said Saturday that, even if Israel calls a ceasefire and withdraws its troops from Gaza, his organization will continue to fight the Jewish state. “We were not and will not be defeated,” he said.
Our sources add that the memorandum signed Friday with the US contains to guarantees to halt weapons smuggling into Gaza – only a commitment of resources and international cooperation to this end.
Cairo refused to meet a key Israeli demand – supposed to dovetail with the US role -to seal off as military zones Sinai regions abutting on the Gaza Strip to block off arms shipments from Iran through the Philadelphi corridor.
The shuttle conducted by the Israeli official, Amos Gilead, between Cairo and Jerusalem, produced no breakthrough in Egypt’s position. All Cairo was prepared to contribute to ending the Gaza conflict was an offer of intelligence cooperation with Israel and a task force of Egyptian civilian engineers to work on solutions.

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