Egypt's intelligence hosts new Palestinian-Israeli truce talks
Truce talks follow renewed fighting which began last Friday
Bassem Aly , Monday 11 Aug 2014
Palestinians walks next the rubble of homes destroyed by Israeli strikes in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, Monday, Aug. 11, 2014 (Photo: AP)
The headquarters of Egypt's intelligence hosted a new round of indirect talks between the Palestinian and Israeli delegations on Monday, Al-Ahram's Arabic news website reported Monday.
Cairo hopes to conclude a "permanent and comprehensive" ceasefire deal in the Gaza Strip to pave the way for the entrance of humanitarian aid and reconstructing the war-torn coastal enclave.
Last Friday, fighting started again in Gaza after an Egyptian-sponsored 72-hour ceasefire ended. Israel's military claimed that a series of rockets were fired at Israel from the strip, renewing its air strikes against Gaza with Prime Minsiter Benjamin Netanyahu ordering troops to "retaliate forcefully."
An official told AFP on Friday that Israel "will not negotiate under fire." The source claimed that Israel had informed Egypt of its willingness to extend the truce by another three days before "Hamas breached the ceasefire."
However, Hamas spokesman Ezzat Al-Rasheq tweeted that the "resistance movements did not accept extending the truce." Nevertheless, he said that talks in Egypt would continue.
Azzam Al-Ahmed, a leading figure in the Fatah movement and leader of the Palestinian delegation, had also emphasised that negotiations will resume, Egypt's state-run news agency MENA stated.
Media reports had differed over which side had started attacking the other following the end of the temporary truce.
Attempting to keep the talks alive, Egyptian officials successfully managed to gain the approval of both sides concerning a new 72-hour ceasefire, beginning at 2100 GMT on Sunday.
Israel's offensive on Gaza, which began on 8 July, led to the death of more than 1,930 Palestinians and the injury of more than 10,000 others. A total of 64 soldiers were also killed as well as three civilians on the Israeli side.
The Palestinian delegation officially presented its demands for a permanent ceasefire last week including an immediate Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, halting airstrikes, lifting the Israeli blockade on the coastal strip and releasing Palestinian prisoners.
But Egyptian and Palestinian sources said on Thursday that the Palestinian factions' weapons are the major source of disagreement in the talks. The source – speaking to Al-Ahram's Arabic news website – said that Israel has called for the disarmament of Hamas and other Palestinian groups in Gaza in exchange for lifting the siege on the strip.
Hamas has constantly rejected the idea of disarmament. On Friday, Moussa Abu Marzouk – member of the Palestinian delegation and deputy leader of Hamas' political bureau – in a tweet described the weapons of Palestinian resistance groups as the 'sole guarantee for any reached deal'.