Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday pursued a Gaza truce, with Israel and Hamas still at odds over key terms, as Israeli air strikes shook the enclave and a bomb exploded on a Tel Aviv bus.
After talks in Ramallah with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Clinton held a second meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before heading to Egypt, the main broker in efforts to end eight days of fighting and avert a possible Israeli ground offensive.
In Tel Aviv, at least 10 people were wounded when a bus was blown up on a main street near the Defence Ministry and military headquarters. Israel’s government called it a terrorist attack.
The explosion, which police said was caused by a bomb placed on the vehicle, touched off celebratory gunfire from militants in Gaza and threatened to complicate truce efforts.
Israel’s best-selling Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said an emerging outline of a ceasefire agreement called for Egypt to announce a 72-hour ceasefire followed by further talks on long-term understandings.
Under the proposed document, which the newspaper said neither party would be required to sign, Israel would hold its fire, end attacks against top militants and promise to examine ways to ease its blockade of the enclave.
Hamas, the report said, would pledge not to strike any Israeli target and ensure other Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip also stop their attacks.
An Israeli political source said differences holding up a deal centred on a Hamas demand to lift the Gaza blockade completely and the kind of activity that would be allowed along the frontier, where Israeli troops often fire into the enclave to keep Palestinians away from an area near a border fence.
Hamas official Ezzat al-Rishq said the main stumbling block was “the temporary timeframe for a ceasefire that the Israelis want us to agree to”.
The London-based Al Hayat newspaper, citing sources in Hamas and Islamic Jihad, said Israel wanted a 90-day period to determine “good intentions” before discussing Palestinian demands, a position the report said the groups have rejected.