Egypt brokers ceasefire in Gaza
Israel and Gaza militant groups have agreed to a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr announced after the deal was brokered by Cairo.
According to the ceasefire agreement, the two sides will stop airstrikes and rocket attacks starting 9 p.m. Gaza time Wednesday (1900 GMT), Xinhua reported.
Appreciating the efforts made by the UN, the Arab League, Qatar and Turkey, Amr said Egypt was committed to its historical role in the Palestinian issue, and that his countryy believes in the necessity of a fair solution.
"Egypt calls the whole world to follow what has been achieved under the Egyptian mediation, to guarantee that both sides are committed to the agreement," he was quoted as saying.
Amr announced the ceasefire at a press conference with visiting US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after their meeting in Cairo.
Clinton arrived in Cairo Wednesday to hold meetings with Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi and other officials.
The Israeli Prime Minister's Office confirmed that a ceasefire agreement has been reached with the Palestinian militant groups in Gaza.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had spoken Tuesday with US President Barack Obama and assured him that Israel would "give the Egyptian ceasefire agreement a chance".
By accepting the truce offer, Israel is "giving a chance to stabilize the region before there is a need to execute excessive force", the prime minister's office said.
"Netanyahu has repeatedly said and stressed that Israel will take any step necessary to protect its citizens," it said.
The understandings related to the ceasefire agreement include:
1. Israel stops all aggressive actions on Gaza, from the sea, the ground and the air, including incursions and targeted killing of people.
2. Palestinian factions and armed wings stop all aggressive actions from the Gaza Strip on Israel, including rockets and attacks on the borderline between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
3. Opening crossing points and facilitating the movement of individuals and goods, and not restricting the movement of residents or targeting them near border areas. This should be implemented after 24 hours of the agreement becoming valid.
4. Each side would be committed not to carry unilateral action to violate these understandings. In case there are any observations, Egypt, as the sponsor of this agreement, shall be noted to follow up.