O (AFP) - Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called on Saturday for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, as Hamas vowed to fight on if its terms for a truce were not met.
"I ask Israel today to end its military operations immediately," Mubarak said in an address on state television of the 22-day-old war. "I call on its leadership for an immediate unconditional ceasefire and a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Strip," he said, as the Israeli security cabinet prepared to consider halting its offensive.
French President Sarkozy's office said Saturday that Nicolas Sarkozy and Egyptian counterpart Hosni Mubarak would co-chair an international summit on the Gaza war to be held Sunday at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Sarkozy "spoke today with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who invited him to co-chair, within the Franco-Egyptian initiative, the international summit that will take place Sunday January 18 in Sharm el-Sheikh," it said in a statement.
President Hosni Mubarak said he would never allow international monitors on Egyptian soil. "Egypt, in its efforts to stop the aggression, is working on securing its borders with Israel and the Gaza Strip and it will never accept the presence of foreign observers on its territory," he said in a television address.
Mubarak said an Israeli ceasefire would not be enough on its own, saying its troops must leave Gaza as well. European diplomats said that Egypt would host an international summit on Gaza in Sharm el-Sheikh on Sunday, with at least French President Nicolas Sarkozy confirmed to attend.
Mubarak called in his speech on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to "heed reason and conscience" to end the bloodshed in Gaza. Mubarak insisted that Egypt was securing its border with the Gaza Strip, and Egypt's Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit said his country would not be bound by a just-inked US-Israeli deal to stop arms smuggling to Gaza.
"Egypt, in its efforts to stop the aggression, is working on securing its borders with Israel and the Gaza Strip and it will never accept the presence of foreign observers on its territory," Mubarak said. "I say that is a red line we will not allow to be crossed," he added.
Egypt "is absolutely not bound by this agreement," on halting arms smuggling through tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border, Abul Gheit told reporters.
The Egyptian foreign minister also said that Israel was the main obstacle to Egyptian efforts to secure a ceasefire in Gaza. "Israel is drunk with power and violence," he said.
The US-Israel deal was signed on Friday in Washington by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni but details of the accord were not disclosed by Washington. Egypt has repeatedly denied that arms have been smuggled into Gaza through a network of tunnels linking Egypt to the impoverished Palestinian enclave, saying the arms came by sea.
A senior Egyptian official said that Egypt would pass Israel's response and its "ceasefire vision" to a Hamas delegation in Cairo on Saturday, the official MENA news agency said.
"This unilateral ceasefire does not foresee a withdrawal" by the Israeli army, Osama Hemdan, Hamas's Lebanon representative, told AFP. "As long as it remains in Gaza, resistance and confrontation will continue."
"We will listen if there's something new from the Egyptians but we will not start discussing everything again from square one," said Hemdan.