Officials of the Palestinian militant group Hamas say they have
proposed a year-long truce with Israel linked to an opening of border
crossings into the Gaza Strip.
Representatives of Hamas met Sunday in Cairo with Egyptian diplomats
who are trying to broker a long-term cease-fire between the
Palestinians and Israelis.
Hamas negotiator Ayman Taha said his team rejected what he said was an
Israeli proposal for an 18-month cease-fire with partial opening of the
Gaza border. Israel has not given details of its talks with Egyptian
Hamas has opened makeshift government offices in the Gaza Strip, where
Israel bombed most of the group's facilities in a three-week war. The
group pledged to distribute 52 million dollars in aid to Palestinians
who lost family members or whose homes were damaged in the war.
United Nations officials estimate the cost of reconstruction and redevelopment in Gaza will be in the billions of dollars.
Meanwhile, Israel's prime minister says his country will grant legal
protection to soldiers who fought in the Gaza war, against possible
allegations of war crimes.
Ehud Olmert said Sundayhe asked Israel's justice minister (Daniel Friedman)
to chair a committee to offer a coordinated defense against what he
called "self-righteous people" who might want to sue Israeli soldiers.
A U.N. human rights expert (Richard Falk) has accused
Israel of violating humanitarian law by conducting an offensive
against, in his words, "an essentially defenseless population."
Israel says it undertook the three-week offensive to defend itself against rocket attacks launched by Hamas.
Some 13-hundred Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed during
Israel's 22-day offensive, which ended after both sides declared
cease-fires last week.