Date
20 October 2017
Palestinians flee their ruined neighborhood to take shelter in a United Nations school in northern Gaza on Monday. Photo:AFP
Palestinians flee their ruined neighborhood to take shelter in a United Nations school in northern Gaza on Monday. Photo:AFP

Israel, Palestinians extend truce to pursue talks

Violence could erupt again in the Gaza Strip unless Israeli and Palestinian officials make progress in negotiations to establish a lasting deal ahead of a midnight deadline in the Egyptian-brokered talks, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing a warning by the chief Palestinian negotiator.

After both sides agreed to extend by 24 hours a deadline to reach a truce, Azzam al-Ahmad, senior leader of President Mahmoud Abbas’ mainstream Fatah movement, said there had been “no progress on any point” in talks aimed at resolving the Gaza conflict.

“We hope that every minute of the coming 24 hours will be used to reach an agreement, and if not [successful], the circle of violence will continue,” Ahmad was quoted as saying.

He accused Israel of “maneuvering and stalling” as gaps on key issues continued to dog efforts to achieve a long-term deal between Israel and militant groups in the Gaza Strip, dominated by Hamas Islamists, which would allow reconstruction aid to flow in after five weeks of fighting.

An Israeli government official said Israeli delegates were still in Cairo poring over details of a possible deal, although the parties had not yet agreed a draft.

“The Israeli delegation has been instructed to insist on security requirements. The moment there is an agreement, the cabinet will be called for discussions,” said the official, who asked not to be identified.

Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk accused Israel of stalling and insisted in a post on his Twitter account that his group “will never cede any” demands for a comprehensive deal.

Israel has called for the disarming of militant groups in the enclave of 1.8 million people, but Hamas has said that laying down its weapons is not an option.

The Palestinian Health Ministry put the Gaza death toll at 2,016, mostly civilians. Sixty-four Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel have been killed, the report said.

The United Nations said 425,000 people in Gaza have been displaced by the conflict.

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CG

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