Diplomatic Push To End Middle East Crisis Gaining Momentum
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) –– As talks of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas moved forward Tuesday, so did the violence.
Earlier, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in the region, renewing America’s commitment to Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at her side, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
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With Clinton in the Middle East, the pace of negotiations is expected to pick up.
“President Obama asked me to come to Israel with a very clear message: America’s commitment to Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering. That is why we believe it is essential to de-escalate the situation in Gaza,” Clinton said. “In the end there is no substitute for security and a just and lasting peace.”
ALLEGED ‘SPY’ DRAGGED THROUGH STREETS
Despite intensive efforts on all sides to broker a deal to end the week-long offensive in the volatile region, the violence has not stopped and that includes what happened to a Palestinian who reportedly collaborated with Israel.
That man’s body was dragged behind a motorcycle in Gaza city. It is not clear if he survived.
Photos showed the body of a man being dragged behind motorcycles. Some reports suggested the men on motorcycles were shouting “Spy! Spy!” as they pulled the body through the streets.
Masked gunmen publicly shot dead six suspected collaborators with Israel in a large Gaza City intersection Tuesday, witnesses told the AP. An Associated Press reporter saw a mob surrounding five of the bloodied corpses shortly after the killing.
WHAT DO BOTH SIDES WANT?
Israel intensified its attacks on Gaza in what may have been the last burst of fire ahead of the cease-fire.
One strike produced heavy damage to the Islamic National Bank. Israeli authorities said the bank was set up to avoid international sanctions on Hamas.
At a meeting with United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu said Israel would be a “willing partner” in a cease-fire with Hamas.
Egypt’s president, Mohammed Morsi, perhaps the most important interlocutor between the militant Hamas group that rules the Palestinian territory and the Israelis, said that the negotiations between the two sides will yield “positive results” during the coming hours.
Israel is reportedly demanding there be 24 hours of total calm — no rockets or airstrikes — before it can commit to any peace agreement.
Hamas wants Israel to halt all attacks on Gaza and lift tight restrictions on trade and movement in and out of the territory that have been in place since Hamas seized Gaza by force in 2007.
REACTION IN NEW YORK
CBS 2’s Kramer spoke exclusively with Israel Consul General for Media Affairs Shahar Azani, who said the cease-fire should also include sanctions on Iran and Egypt to stop aid to Hamas militants.
“Iran is exporting the weapons to Hamas in the Gaza Strip,” Azani said. “No more such exports allowed. No more smuggling of weapons through the tunnels under the Sinai; more supervision on the Egyptian side to make sure that they don’t have the missiles.”
While Jews in New York loudly demonstrated their support for Israel to keep up the attacks, they also hoped a cease-fire will be negotiated.
“My heart goes out to civilians on both sides,” Weiss Elka said.
The Council on Islamic American Relations said it also wants the attacks to end.
“People are dying — these are people — men, women and children babies being killed in this type of conflict and I think a cease-fire, from our perspective all the way on the other side of the world, is a good thing,” said Cyrus McGoldrick, of CAIR.
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