Gaza Talks Deadlocked: Egypt Saves Face with Yet another Ceasefire

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Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu at a News Conference in Jerusalem
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu holds a news conference at his office in Jerusalem August 6, 2014.

Barring an extended 3-day ceasefire in Gaza, from Sunday onwards, the hopes of an early Israel-Hamas peace agreement receded.  Egypt, the main interlocutor, barely saved its face with another 72- hour ceasefire, accepted by Israel and Hamas, reported The Guardian.

On Sunday, Palestinians had threatened to quit the negotiations if Israel did not return to the negotiating table.

Israel Rejects Talks under Rocket Fire

Israeli leaders made the position clear that no talks are possible until Hamas stopped all rocket attacks.  Israel pulled out from the cease-fire talks over the weekend.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that his country's military campaign would take some time. Israel will not negotiate for truce in Gaza under rocket fire, he said.  Netayahu counseled patience and said Israel would continue the action to change the current reality and bring safety to its entire citizens, reported Guardian.

Hamas Wants Talks

Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior member of the Palestinian delegation in Cairo expressed the team's willingness to stay back and negotiate with Israel through Egyptian mediators. Ihab al-Ghussein, Hamas deputy information minister also warned that if Israel is not giving the right response to its demands, it will intensify the "defensive measures".

After the expiry of the 3-day truce on Friday, Hamas militants had resumed rocket firing to southern Israel and that invited Israeli reprisals.

Conflicting Demands

According to media reports, the deadlock in the talks emanated from the hard stand Israel took in the matter of lifting the blockade on Gaza. Israel fears that removing the blockade will intensify arms smuggling. But Hamas stood by its demand of ending the blockade. Israel also mooted disarming of Hamas as part of any long-term arrangement for peace. But Hamas rejected that outright. Hamas made it clear that handing over its arsenal containing thousands of rockets to Israel, was inconceivable.

Egypt for Long Truce

Egypt is mediating the talks for a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas. Hostilities between the bitter enemies escalated ever since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007. The Gaza war in July, killed more than 1,900 Palestinians and rendered nearly 10,000 people injured. Thousands of homes and buildings have been destroyed. Israel also lost 67 people, including many civilians.

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