Egypt says deal close, Israel keeps mum

An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire in the Gaza conflict will go into effect later on Tuesday, a Hamas official said.

There was no immediate Israeli comment. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier said he was open to a long-term deal to halt Palestinian rocket attacks on his country.

"An agreement for calm has been reached. It will be declared at 9 o'clock (1900 GMT) and go into effect at midnight (2200 GMT)," Hamas official Ayman Taha told Reuters from Cairo, where efforts have been under way to end seven days of hostilities.

Earlier, Egypt's state media quoted Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi as announcing "that the farce of Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip will end on Tuesday".

Morsi said, according to the reports, that "efforts to conclude a truce between the Palestinian and Israeli sides will produce positive results in the next few hours".

Amid international efforts to stop the fighting and avert a possible Israeli ground invasion of the densely-populated Gaza Strip, Israel pressed on with air strikes and Palestinian rockets flashed across the border on Tuesday.

"If a long-term solution can be put in place through diplomatic means, then Israel would be a willing partner to such a solution," the Israeli prime minister had said, when UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon visited the region.

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