Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to a 12-hour humanitarian ceasefire, a US official traveling with Secretary of State John Kerry told Reuters.The temporary hold will start at 7 am Israeli time (4:00 GMT) on Saturday.
According to a statement by Kerry, a deal was being sought for a seven-day humanitarian ceasefire during the Muslim Eid Al-Fitr holiday beginning next week.
The move by Israel to enact a pause over the weekend is intended as a goodwill gesture signal by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to “indicate his willingness to do that as a good face down payment and to move forward,” Kerry said.
“We are working toward a brief seven days of peace. Seven days of a humanitarian ceasefire in honor of Eid in order to be able to bring people together to try to work to create a more durable, sustainable ceasefire for the long (term),” Kerry told a news conference in Cairo on Friday.
Kerry said “serious progress” had been made on a truce, but there was more work to do and he was sure that Netanyahu was committed to working towards a ceasefire.
“We still have some terminology … to work through, but we are confident that we have a fundamental framework that can and will ultimately work,” Mr Kerry said.
Hours earlier, the Israeli cabinet has unanimously rejected a ceasefire proposal backed by the US to the 18-day conflict in Gaza which has killed over 800 Palestinians, most of whom were civilians.
The refusal came reportedly due to Israel’s need for the conflict to continue so its forces can destroy the Hamas tunnels it has been targeting.
The head of Israel’s southern command, General Sami Turgeman, said that more time was needed to destroy the Hamas tunnels, adding that “we know that there are other timetables that can affect us, and we will use all the time that we have at our disposal.”