The "seven days of peace" that Secretary of State John Kerry envisions as a path toward a Gaza cease-fire remain as elusive as ever today after last-ditch efforts to resolve the 18-day conflict. "We don't yet have that final framework, but none of us are stopping," he said today of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
Addressing a news conference in Cairo, he said, "There’s a lot on the table, it didn’t get easy last night. But with good will and good effort, I think progress can be made."
Kerry had proposed the cease-fire over the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday next week, marking the end of Ramadan.
He's now headed to Paris for another round of talks.
Kerry said that there was never any formal proposal on which to vote, suggesting that reports that Israel had rejected a cease-fire deal were inaccurate. "They may have voted on language from a framework but there was no proposal submitted by me on which there was a proposal or a ripe one," he said.
He added later: "It's fair to say that Israel had some opposition to some concepts, but that doesn't mean a proposal, by any means."
Mediators originally tried to sell this latest proposal as a week-long humanitarian truce designed to help the hundreds of wounded Palestinians. Israel wanted the deal to include a stipulation that some of its troops be allowed to remain in Gaza during the humanitarian cease-fire.
Kerry flew to Egypt and, later, Israel before returning to Cairo this week to help broker a deal alongside United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
He formally made the proposal to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Thursday evening and the Israeli Security Council held a meeting this afternoon to vote on the deal.
The U.N. has proposed a 12-hour "pause" in fighting to which, Ban says, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed, and that Ban and Kerry hope would be extended to 24 hours.
Kerry made no mention today of Palestinian militant group Hamas, only referring to “many different Palestinian factions.”
Hamas, which has been accused of firing hundreds of rockets into Israel throughout the conflict, had rejected an earlier cease-fire deal.
The conflict, which emerged after three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed, eventually escalated and the Israeli Defense Forces launched Operation Protective Edge July 8.
Hundreds of Palestinians and dozens of Israelis, mostly soldiers, have died in the conflict.