JERUSALEM Egypt’s president predicted Tuesday that Israel’s nearly week-long offensive in the Gaza Strip would end within hours, and Israel’s prime minister said his country would be a “willing partner” to a cease-fire with Hamas aimed at ending relentless Israeli airstrikes and Palestinian rocket attacks.
As indications grew of an imminent end to the fighting, international diplomats raced across the region to cement a deal. President Barack Obama dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Mideast from Cambodia, where she had accompanied him on a visit.
Mohammed Morsi, perhaps the most important interlocutor between the militant Hamas group that rules the Palestinian territory and the Israelis, gave no explanation for his statement, saying only that the negotiations between the two sides will yield “positive results” during the coming hours.
In Brussels, a senior official of the European Union’s foreign service said a cease-fire would include an end of Israeli airstrikes and targeted killings in Gaza, the opening of Gaza crossing points and an end to rocket attacks on Israel. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media.
Clinton hastily departed for the region from Cambodia, where she had joined Obama for summit meetings with Asian leaders.
The White House said she would make three stops, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem; Palestinian officials in Ramallah, in the West Bank; and Egyptian leaders in Cairo.
Clinton was expected to arrive in Israel on Tuesday night and return to Washington late Wednesday or very early Thursday after making all three stops.
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.