Israel and Egypt are conducting intensive negotiations in an effort to reach a long term cease fire agreement in the gaza Strip wich would include reopening the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. Israel Defense Ministry officials visited Cairo to discuss possible peace arrangements with Egyptian officials. In exchange for a cease fire, Hamas is demanding an end to the economic siege of Gaza bu apparently Israel opposes accepting such terms but might be willing to consider a partial reopening of the Rafah crossing. There is discussion of bringing back European monitors to supervise conditions at the crossing and whether they would have a right to search people moving through Rafah. Hamas most probbly would accept a low profile presence at the crossing and allow European monitors to have a more prominent role.
Israel fears Hamas is only interested in a cease fire in order to replenish stores of rockets and for that reason its negotiators are taking a hard line stance. Condi Rice is urging Israel to avoid antagonizing Egypt and damaging its relationship with that nation. President Mubarak spoke to his nation yesterday and among his comments was: “Your people’s security will not be achieved through collective punishment, attacks, incursion, siege, roadblocks, and settlement construction. What wlll achieve it is a just and swift agreement.”