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“Israel is prepared and has taken steps, and is ready for a ground incursion which will deal severely with the Hamas military machine,” an official close to Netanyahu told Reuters.
“We would prefer to see a diplomatic solution that would guarantee the peace for Israel’s population in the south. If that is possible, then a ground operation would no longer be required. If diplomacy fails, we may well have no alternative but to send in ground forces,” he added.
Egypt, where Mursi has his roots in Hamas’s spiritual mentors the Muslim Brotherhood, is acting as a mediator in the biggest test yet of Cairo’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel since the fall of Hosni Mubarak early last year.
“I think we are close, but the nature of this kind of negotiation, (means) it is very difficult to predict,” Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil, who visited Gaza on Friday in a show of support for its people, said in an interview in Cairo for the Reuters Middle East Investment Summit.
Egypt has been hosting leaders of both Hamas and Islamic Jihad, a smaller armed faction.
Israeli media said a delegation from Israel had also been to Cairo for truce talks. A spokesman for Netanyahu’s government declined comment on the matter.
Egypt’s foreign minister, who met U.N. chief Ban on Monday, is expected to visit Gaza on Tuesday with a delegation of Arab ministers.
THOUSANDS MOURN FAMILY
Thousands turned out on Gaza’s streets to mourn four children and five women who were among 11 people killed in an Israeli air strike that flattened a three-storey home the previous day.