Palestinian official says truce possible

Talks on a truce to end five days of violence in and around Gaza are under way, and a deal could be reached "today or tomorrow," a Palestinian official says.

"There are serious talks to reach a truce, and it is possible that understandings will be reached today or tomorrow," the senior official said on Sunday, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The official's comments were confirmed by an Egyptian security source, who said: "Egypt has continued meetings and intensive communication with all parties to reach a truce as quickly as possible.

"We have reached important understandings, but we still have a little way to go in order to complete the truce agreement in order to achieve security and stability and ... ensure it doesn't happen again."

A source close to the negotiations said a series of meetings were being held in Cairo between the Palestinian factions, involving both Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshaal and Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shallah.

"The organisations want to completely end the siege on Gaza and stop all the Israeli aggression and in return, all attacks on Israel will stop," the source said.


Overnight, talk of a truce agreement intensified after Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi said his government was in talks with Israel and the Palestinians and there were indications they could reach a truce "soon."

"There are some indications that there could be a ceasefire soon," Morsi said at a joint news conference with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday night, adding there were still "no guarantees."

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius left Paris for Israel on Sunday "to call on all the parties to stop the escalation and offer France's help to reach an immediate ceasefire," his ministry says.

During his one-day trip, the minister will meet with the Israeli authorities and Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, the ministry said in a statement.

"This visit prepared in co-ordination with our principal regional and international partners, will be the occasion for talks" with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, it said.