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15:44, 17 August 2014 Sunday

Palestinians, Israelis in Cairo for resumed Gaza talks

Palestinians, Israelis in Cairo for resumed Gaza talks

Palestinian factions have linked any permanent ceasefire to concessions by Israel, including the lifting of a years-long blockade on the Gaza Strip, allowing the establishment of a Gaza seaport, reopening Gaza's closed border crossings and rebuilding of Gaza's airport.



Palestinian and Israeli negotiating teams arrived in Cairo Sunday for resumed indirect talks on a permanent ceasefire in the blockaded Gaza Strip, security sources at the Cairo airport said.

The Israeli negotiators, who arrived from Tel Aviv aboard a chartered plane, were welcomed by Egyptian intelligence officials who escorted them to the venue of talks, the sources told Anadolu Agency.

Some members of the Palestinian delegation also arrived in Cairo from Ramallah – through Amman – and Beirut, they added. Gaza-based negotiators are yet to arrive though.

The Palestinian faction Hamas late on Saturday said the lifting of a blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israel would contribute to bringing about a permanent ceasefire in the Palestinian territory.

"Lifting the blockade, the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip and suspending the Israeli aggression on it would bring the Palestinians and the Israelis close to clinching a deal on calm," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said. "The situation will be difficult without this," he added in a statement.

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, in public remarks to his cabinet, said Hamas should not underestimate Israel's resolve to battle on.

"Only if there is a clear response to our security needs will we agree to reach understandings," he said.

"If Hamas thinks that through continued intermittent firing it will cause us to make concessions, it is mistaken. For as long as quiet does not return, Hamas will continue to absorb very harsh strikes."

Commenting on Netanyahu's remarks, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said: "The only way to achieve security is to afford security to the Palestinians first and to lift the blockade and to agree to their demands."

Another Hamas leader said the offers made by Israel during the Cairo talks are far from Palestinian demands.

Osama Hamdan, Hamas' foreign relations chief, called on Israel on his Twitter account to succumb to the conditions of the Palestinian people or "face a long war of attrition".

DEMANDS

Palestinian negotiators who would engage in resumed indirect talks with Israel in Cairo for a durable ceasefire in the Gaza Strip would stick to the "resistance demands," including the end of Israeli siege on Gaza and allowing the establishment of a seaport, a Palestinian source said.

"Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad would stick to the Palestinian demands, while Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) has an almost similar stance," the source, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Anadolu Agency.

Wassel Abu Youssef, senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave the Palestinian delegation "full powers" in the Egyptian-brokered talks.

Asked about the possibility of extending a five-day ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, which is due to expire by Monday midnight, Abu Youssef said that the delegation would decide on that depending on the progress of the talks.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinian leadership holds fast to Egypt's initiative for ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

"The Palestinian leadership will not accept any alternative to the Egyptian initiative for suspending the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip," Abbas added in a cabinet meeting in Ramallah.

He described the enormity of the Israeli offensive on Gaza as "unparalleled".

PESSIMISM

Israeli officials and leaders from the Palestinian faction Hamas on Saturday sounded a note of pessimism on the prospects of talks in the Egyptian capital Cairo on a long-term ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

The website of the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth quoted an Israeli minister as talking about the possibility that negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis would falter, bringing the two sides back to the calm-for-calm formula as far as the Gaza Strip is concerned.

The talks follow more than a month of Israeli attacks on the Palestinian territory, attacks that had left 1961 Palestinians dead and more than 10,000 others injured.

About 64 Israeli troops were also killed in Gaza combat, while three civilians were killed by rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.

The Gaza Strip has been reeling under the Israeli blockade since 3006. The blockade has turned the lives of the Palestinian coastal enclave's around 1.9 million population into hell.

Apart from killing hundreds of Palestinians and injuring thousands of others, a recent Israeli offensive on the Palestinian territory had left thousands of homes and buildings in Gaza in total ruin.

The residents of Gaza now enjoy a five-day ceasefire that was reached on Wednesday, but fear is rife that indirect talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis in Cairo would take the two sides nowhere near peace.

An Israeli official, meanwhile, told the Israeli portal Walla that chances for reaching a durable ceasefire in the Gaza Strip on Monday are very minimal.

The official said while the Palestinians and the Israelis talk about progress in the indirect Cairo talks, both of them hold tightly onto their positions, refusing to demonstrate any flexibility or reach a common ground.

He added that this is one reason why the Israeli government thinks of taking the unilateral move of easing some of the restrictions it imposes on Gaza and allowing funds in for the reconstruction of the Palestinian territory.



Related Topics » Palestinians | Israelis |