CAIRO, EGYPT - Egypt and Hamas were negotiating a proposal for a 10-day cease-fire in Gaza, officials said Wednesday, as the Palestinian death toll in the war passed 1,000 and smoke from Israeli airstrikes rose over Gaza City's devastated streets.
Egyptian and Palestinian officials said they hoped to seal Hamas' agreement on a temporary halt in fighting, which would be presented to Israel for approval. Key uncertainties remained for a longer-term deal under which Gaza's borders would be open and Israeli troops would withdraw.
The officials provided details of the deal on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the Egypt-Hamas talks. But Egyptian officials also expressed public optimism that momentum toward a deal was growing.
A Hamas spokesman said he also believed an agreement was possible.
"There is good progress in Egypt. We hope that now Egypt will contact Israel and talk about all issues," Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas adviser, told the BBC.
Asked if a negotiated settlement could also include a deal between Hamas and the rival Palestinian administration, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank, Hamad said he was hopeful.
"I am optimistic now because I think there is no other choice for us," he said.
"We responded positively to the Egyptian initiative but there is still several specified points of differences and certain reservations. We hope that these points will be solved over the next few days to meet with the Palestinian national interests," a Hamas source told CBS News in Damascus on condition of anonymity.
In Jerusalem, a senior Defense Ministry official said Israel was sending a chief envoy to Egypt on Thursday to present Israel's stance. The senior official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media. Amos Gilad's trip has been postponed for days but his presence in Egypt would be a strong signal of progress.