US Secretary of State John Kerry announces a 72-hour
humanitarian ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, while in
New Delhi today. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
US Secretary of State John Kerry has called the 72-hour
ceasefire agreed to by Israel and Hamas in their conflict in
the Gaza Strip a "lull of opportunity" and said it was
imperative that the sides make their best efforts to find
Kerry said Egypt's foreign minister will invite the ceasefire
parties to take part in "serious" negotiations in Cairo and
that the United States plans to send a small delegation. He
called the ceasefire "precious time."
"It is a lull of opportunity, a moment for the different
factions to be able to come together with the state of Israel
in an effort to try to address ways to find a sustainable
ceasefire and then obviously, over a longer period of time,
address the underlying issues," Kerry told reporters.
Kerry said the United States is grateful that the violence
and bloodshed can stop for more than 24 hours. "We hope that
this moment of opportunity will be grabbed by the parties,
but no one can force them to do that, obviously," Kerry
"There are no guarantees. This is a difficult, complicated
issue, years and years in the building, and I think everybody
knows it has not been easy to get to this point. Everybody
knows it will not be easy to get beyond this point, but it is
imperative people make the best effort to try to find common
ground and do so," Kerry added.
A senior US State Department official said the Gaza talks
could start as early as Friday, depending on how long it
takes the parties to reach Cairo. The official said
representatives from Israel and the United States will not
sit across the table from Hamas in Cairo.
The official said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be
responsible for naming the Palestinian delegation for Cairo
but will not attend the talks.
Kerry said that as soon as the ceasefire is under way, Egypt
will issue invitations to the parties to come to Cairo
immediately in order to engage in serious and focused
negotiations with Egypt to address the underlying causes of
Israel and Islamist militant group Hamas agreed to the
72-hour humanitarian ceasefire in their conflict starting on
Friday, Kerry and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said
Kerry said the parties need to find a way to address Israel's
security concerns and to ensure that the people of Gaza can
live in safety and dignity.
"All the people involved in this have strong demands and
strong visions on what the future should look like. Israel
has to be able to live in peace and security, without terror
attacks and rockets and tunnels and sirens going off in the
day," Kerry said.
"And Palestinians need to be able to live with the
opportunity to educate their children and move freely and
share in the rest of the world and lead a life that is
different from the one they have long suffered," Kerry added.