Sec. Clinton Heads to Mideast to Seek Israel-Gaza Truce

8:23 AM, Nov 20, 2012   |    comments
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(PHNOM PENH, Cambodia) --  President Obama is sending Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the Middle East in hopes that she can help mediate an end to the bloody conflict between Israel and Gaza.

A deputy White House national security adviser told CBS News that Clinton would depart Tuesday from Cambodia, where she had accompanied Mr. Obama on a visit to Southeast Asia.

After a marathon day that took him from Thailand to Myanmar to Cambodia, the president worked the phones with Mideast leaders into the early hours of Tuesday morning, aides said.

Clinton was to begin her Mideast diplomacy by meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem. She was then to meet Palestinian officials in Ramallah before heading to Cairo to meet Egyptian leaders. Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood politician with ties to Hamas, was elected president of Egypt earlier this year and has taken a lead role in trying to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and the Gaza militants.

In the latest sign that the intensive diplomacy might be paying off, a source close to the Hamas delegation in Cairo told CBS News correspondent Clarissa Ward on Tuesday morning that he believed some agreement would be reached "within a few hours." He said the negotiating parties were still trying to work out the logistics of implementing a ceasefire on the ground.






According to the source, Israel wants Hamas to stop rocket fire for an initial 24 hours, and then the Jewish state would theoretically meet some of the militant group's demands. Ward notes, however, that previous remarks from diplomats suggesting a deal was near have proven premature, as Israel remains reluctant to accept Hamas' key demand that a total blockade on the Gaza Strip be lifted. Israel fears that lifting the blockade would allow more weapons to flow into the tiny Palestinian territory.


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