According to the report, Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman offered the Palestinian factions an Israeli commitment to cease its operations against Palestinian militants in Gaza if the factions made a commitment to halt the rocket fire from the Strip into Israel. The offer, made at a meeting between Egyptian officials and Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders in Egypt on Thursday, was rejected.
According to Egyptian sources, the heads of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, currently based in Damascus, are the only ones authorized to make a decision regarding a cease-fire with Israel, and it is possible that the Syrian government is behind the failure of truce negotiations thus far. "All the evidence points to the fact that Syria wants to divert attention from Lebanon and point the spotlight on Gaza," the Egyptian official said.
"The current escalation [of violence] in the Palestinian arena serves the Syrian interests," they said, explaining that the embarrassment caused by continuing violence in Gaza to Arab Leaders may prompt the Arab nations to send high-level representation to the upcoming Arab summit hosted by Syria later this month, after having threatened that state leaders will not attend if Syria continues to interfere in the political crisis in Lebanon.
The Egyptian accusations against Syria are directly linked to rising tensions in the Arab world currently. The absence of Arab leaders from the Arab summit will cause great embarrassment to Damascus, as the host country, and likely prevent the success of the summit.
The Egyptian officials added that they had frozen efforts to mediate a truce between Israel and the Palestinians until after the Arab summit at the end of March. They said that Suleiman, who is responsible for the mediation efforts, will accompany Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak this week to Poland and Dakar, which will prevent him from advancing truce negotiations.
The officials also said that the terrorist attack in Jerusalem on Thursday, which left eight yeshiva boys dead and several others wounded, placed a "shadow" on the cease-fire negotiations.