Israel and Hamas Agree to Egypt's 72-Hour Cease-fire Deal

Israel and Hamas agreed today to a three-day cease-fire plan proposed by Egypt to begin at 5 a.m. local time Tuesday. The agreement includes an invitation for delegations from Israel and Palestine to travel to Cairo to discuss a potential long-term peace deal.

"We hope this will secure a permanent ceasefire and restore stability," the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Both sides have cautiously indicated to the other that they intend to honor the deal, which comes three days after a failed cease-fire plan brokered by the U.N. and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. From Reuters:

Palestinian groups, including envoys of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, were already in Cairo, where they had met the head of Egyptian intelligence on Monday to present their key demands for ending the violence, which has displaced more than one quarter of Gaza's 1.8 million people and seen 3,000 homes destroyed.

Immediately after the meeting, Egypt presented Israel with the demands, which included a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, an end to the blockade of the impoverished enclave and the release of some prisoners.

"It's clear now that the interest of all parties is to have a cease-fire," Bassam Salhi, a member of the Palestinian delegation, told USA Today. "It's going to be tough negotiations because Israel has demands, too."

An Israeli government official told Reuters, "We agree to begin implementing the Egyptian initiative. If the ceasefire is upheld there will be no need for any presence of (Israeli) forces in the Gaza Strip."

[Image via AP]