FMs in Paris call for extending 12-hour Gaza truce

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Kerry and French FM meet counterparts from UK, Germany, Italy, Qatar and Turkey over long-term Gaza truce amid absence of Egypt FM

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (L) speaks with US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) during a meeting in Paris, France on July 26, 2014 (AA)
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Thursday 12 February 2015 18:15 UTC
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US Secretary of State John Kerry and top diplomats from Europe and the Middle East gathered in Paris Saturday called for an extension to a temporary ceasefire currently in force between Israel and Hamas.

Both sides have agreed to a 12-hour "humanitarian" truce in Gaza that started on Saturday morning.

More than 1,000 Palestinians -- a large majority of them civilians -- have died in a 19-day Israeli offensive on Gaza.

The Israeli army meanwhile has suffered 37 casualties – mainly soldiers -- and world powers are rushing to try and negotiate a lasting ceasefire to avoid more deaths.

"We all call on parties to extend the humanitarian ceasefire currently in force, by 24 hours that could be renewed," France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters after the meeting, which lasted more than two hours.

"We all want to obtain a lasting ceasefire as quickly as possible that addresses both Israeli requirements in terms of security and Palestinian requirements in terms of socio-economic development."

Kerry and Fabius met with their counterparts from Britain, Germany, Italy, Qatar and Turkey, as well as a representative from the European Union.

Kerry has been in regular contact with the foreign ministers of Turkey and Qatar as Hamas wants its Turkish and Qatari allies to be involved in any ceasefire negotiations.

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal is based in Qatar, while Turkey's Islamic-oriented prime minister has strongly criticised Israel's assault on Gaza as well as Egypt's stance towards the besieged Strip.

Kerry failed to secure a lasting deal in Cairo Friday where he met with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukri and UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

Turkish FM: Israel is 'disingenuous' about peace efforts

Israel has reportedly rejected any form of lasting truce, while Hamas says any truce must include a guaranteed end to Israel's eight-year blockade of Gaza.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu slammed the Israeli government as being "disingenuous" about peace efforts.

On his Twitter account, Davutoglu welcomed the temporary truce, but added: "If the Israeli side expressed consent to the joint text reached after day-long negotiations with the Palestinian side in Qatar yesterday, we could have been discussing a more solid ceasefire."

"Israel's stance clearly indicates how disingenuous they are about the peace efforts."

The United States has worked with Egypt on a plan that, diplomats say, would provide a seven-day truce during which the two sides would negotiate a longer-term deal.

Unlike his democratically elected predecessor Mohamed Morsi whom he toppled in a coup and detained last year, current Egyptian leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has sought to isolate the Palestinian movement Hamas in the neighbouring Gaza Strip.

Egypt's foreign minister was pointedly absent from the Paris meeting, which France dismissed by saying that Egypt was still closely associated with the talks.

Speaking in Cairo Friday after his plan was rejected, Kerry said Israel and Hamas "still have some terminology" to agree to on a ceasefire, but added they had a "fundamental framework" on a truce.

Still, the two sides remain at odds over the shape of a final deal.