January 12, 2009 - 1:00am

Hamas has rejected an Egyptian proposal for a long-term truce between the Gaza Strip and Israel, the London-based Arabic daily Al-Hayyat reported on Monday.

The newspaper quoted a senior Hamas source as saying: "There are still many details that need to be discussed before we can say that we have reached an agreement of principles.

Egypt's state-owned news agency reported on Sunday that talks were progressing between Egyptian officials and a Hamas delegation dispatched to Cairo on finding an end to the fighting in the Gaza Strip.

The agency an unnamed Egyptian official as saying that the Hamas delegation has agreed on the need to stop fighting as soon as possible.

Egyptian officials, meanwhile, have characterized the negotiations between the nation's powerful intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and a Hamas delegation as positive. Two of Hamas' Syria-based leaders, Imad al-Almi and Mohammed Nasser, and three officials from Gaza participated in the talks.

Al-Almi and Nasser were dispatched to Damascus on Sunday to update the Syrian-based group leadership of progress in the talks. They will return to Cairo on Monday for further negotiations.

A Hamas source told Al-Hayyat in its Monday article that the meeting with Suleiman a day earlier lasted about two hours.

During the talks, the Hamas delegates said that a long-term truce was "a point on which the movement dissents and which requires precise examination."

The Hamas source said that Hamas also rejects "the deployment of international forces in the Gaza Strip." According to the source, "Some of the issues are not clear. For example, operation of [border crossings] and the issue of preventing weapons smuggling. Hamas is working to improve the clauses in the Egyptian initiative so that it can be implemented in its entirety and so that it does not include interdependent steps."

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak last week announced a three point cease-fire initiative which Hamas initially rejected, insisting it needed provisions for a lifting of the siege on Gaza.

Both Hamas and Israel have rebuffed a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, as Israel's offensive against the Islamist organization enters its third week.

On Thursday the UN Security Council voted on a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, but the United States unexpectedly abstained in the vote, saying talks on a truce were still under way through Egyptian mediation.

An exiled Hamas leader said on Friday the United States appeared to want to give Israel more time to persist with the Gaza offensive.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, meanwhile, said Israel had rejected resolution on the grounds that "sharply rules out continued attacks directed against civilians and does not forbid urgent action against them."


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