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Palestinian-Israeli talks to resume in Egypt before 24 September: Hamas

Moussa Abu Marzouk says Palestinian-Israeli talks will resume "before 24 September," and that Hamas is awaiting confirmation of a meeting with Fatah, in Cairo or Gaza

Ahram Online, Thursday 18 Sep 2014
Cairo Talks
Senior Hamas official and delegation leader Moussa Abu Marzouk (R) talks with Fatah official and delegation leader Azzam Ahmed (C) as they arrive at a hotel after negotiations in Cairo August 13, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)
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Hamas deputy leader Moussa Abu Marzouk revealed Thursday that Palestinian-Israeli indirect talks in Cairo will start before September ends to discuss post-Gaza war arrangements.  

Abu Marzouk, who was interviewed by the Palestinian Maan news agency, said the exact date of talks is not specified yet, but will "definitely come before 24 September."

The leading figure of Hamas pointed out that the United Nations will handle the issue of reconstructing the war-torn Gaza Strip in coordination with Israel and the Palestinian unity government.

He added that observers and plans for the entrance of construction materials will be provided as well. "We don't oppose any mechanism set by the United Nations," he commented on the Islamist movement's position on how the materials will enter Gaza.

Abu Marzouk said he met officials from the UN and the Palestinian Authority over the deteriorating economy in Gaza and the "immediate reconstruction of the Strip that was destroyed by occupation forces."

Abu Marzouk, a member of the negotiating Palestinian team, also spoke about an expected meeting between Fatah and Hamas. "I am currently waiting for a phone call from Fatah's Azzam Al-Ahmed to determine the date and place of the meeting," said Abu Marzouk. "Hamas does not mind holding the meeting in Cairo, in case of the [Egypt's] approval. If not, both sides will meet in Gaza."

Israel and Palestinian factions in late August reached an open-ended Egyptian-brokered ceasefire halting the seven-week Israeli assault on the costal enclave that left around 2,143 Palestinians dead and more than 12,000 others injured. On the Israeli side, 70 persons, including 64 soldiers, were killed.

Egypt's initiative — on which the truce deal was built — included opening crossings into Gaza for goods and humanitarian and food aid, along with medical supplies and material to repair water, electricity and mobile phone networks.

Both sides also agreed to immediately end restrictions on Palestinian boats, in order to allow fishing and sailing activities up to six nautical miles into the Mediterranean.

According to Egypt's state-run MENA agency, Gazan fishermen said that "occupation forces broke the ceasefire" on 12 September after an Israeli naval ship opened fire on fishermen and forced them to return to land.

The fishermen are reportedly complaining about Israeli obstructions to their sailing and fishing activities, despite abiding by the six nautical mile limit.

However, an Israeli army spokesman told Maan news agency that "several vessels deviated from the designated fishing zone."

Maan — in its report — said that the incident was the third recorded since the declaration of the truce, stating that Israeli forces had also opened fire against a fishing boat last Wednesday, after it allegedly violated the authorised fishing range.

Also, four fishermen were detained near Beit Lahiya by Israeli gunboats one day earlier. Their boats were seized as well.  

In a related context, Hamas denied Tuesday knowledge about a mortar attack on Israel and said Palestinian factions are still committed to the truce. The Israeli army had earlier announced that the mortar was fired "across the border," though no damage or casualties were recorded, Reuters reported.

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