01/16/2009, 00.00
ISRAEL – PALESTINE
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Still working on a ceasefire in Gaza

Israel wants more guarantees that arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip will end and that Gilad Shalit will be freed. Hamas wants Israel to pull out and an end to the blockade. Egypt is putting together a truce proposal. Tzipi Livni is in Washington. Death toll tops 1,100. The Custody of the Holy Land appeals for solidarity for Gaza.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Diplomatic activity is intensifying to stop the fight between Israel and Hamas. Today Israeli envoy Amos Gilad was back in Cairo to discuss with Egyptian mediators new elements for a possible truce. He had left the Egyptian capital last night for a quick conference today with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. An appeal for solidarity with the people of Gaza was made today by the Custody of the Holy Land.

Last night Hamas proposed a one-year ceasefire with Israel in exchange for Israel’s pullout of the Gaza strip and end to the blockade. Israel has accepted the idea of a truce but on certain conditions: an end to rocket firing against its southern towns, a stop to weapons and ammunitions smuggling from Egypt into Gaza, and a timetable for concluding a deal on Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier Hamas abducted in 2006.

The Egyptians proposal includes an immediate ceasefire, Israeli pullout over a five-day period, implementation of security measures along the Gaza-Israel border, an end to the blockade, and resumption of Fatah-Hamas reconciliation talks.

Meanwhile Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is travelling to Washington today for talks with the US administration over possible ways to stop weapons smuggling into Gaza.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday that he believed a cease-fire could be signed in a few days.

Since 27 December, the day when Israel’s offensive began, about 1,100 people have died, including 700 civilians, half of whom children, this according to Palestinian authorities. About 5,000 people have been wounded.

Today the Custody of the Holy Land “made a strong appeal for solidarity with the victims of the war underway in the Gaza Strip. The Custodian, Fr Pierbattista Pizzaballa, said urgent help was needed for the affected communities. Financial aid can be sent through the Associazione di Terra Santa (ATS); funds raised will be devolved to Gaza’s Catholic Parish and the Sisters of Mother Teresa.”

Anyone who wants to make a donation can send it to:

ATS Associazione di Terra Santa, via Matteo Boiardo 16 00185 Roma;

Banca Popolare Etica – IBAN code: IT67 W050 1812 - 1010 0000 0122 691

For donations from outside Italy: SWIFT code CCRTIT2184M

Online donations can be made by credit card on www.ats.custodia.org,

Donations can also be deposited on Post Office Account Nº 756205 - Terrasanta Gerusalemme, Via Gherardini 5, 20145 Milano.

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