Palestinian delegation optimistic about slow Gaza talks
Smoke and flames Smoke billows from a Gaza City after an Israeli airstrike - REUTERS
By AMIRA EL-FEKKI

CAIRO: The Palestinian delegation to truce talks with Israelis in Cairo remains optimistic about the talks’ outcome, despite reports that Israeli officials have said they are at an impasse.

“Despite the challenges presented and the Israeli stance, we do believe a permanent truce agreement to be possible through Egypt’s efforts,” Jameel Muzher, leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s (PFLP) political bureau and head of the Popular Front Branch in Gaza, told The Cairo Post Tuesday.

However, an Israeli official told Reuters Tuesday that the Gaza talks “have made no progress so far.”

The Palestinian Embassy in Cairo declined to comment to the press, and at the time of writing, a 72-hour truce that began Monday was still holding.

The Palestinian side initially insisted on a package of demands including a removal of the blockade and opening borders. According to a PFLP statement Monday evening, the Israeli delegation rejected almost all of the conditions discussed by the Palestinian side, but the mission plans to remain in Cairo for another 48 hours and will then announce its decision depending on updates.

Hamas has demanded Gaza seaports and airports be placed under U.N. supervision, to which the Israeli delegation reiterated that it would not offer any concessions, The Jerusalem Post said Tuesday.

Israel claimed the purpose of its ground operations in Gaza during the last month was targeting tunnels used by “militants”, and has destroyed 32 tunnels so far, according to the Times of Israel quoting an Israeli Defense Force (IDF) official.

Furthermore, the permits of fishermen are also a conflicting point for both sides, as Hamas requested the fishing zone to be extended to 12 miles, while Israel said it would only allow for six miles.

Meanwhile, Muzher insisted that civilian rights are what the Palestinian side is pushing for; the purpose of requesting the opening of ports and border crossings is the rehabilitation of life in Gaza after an eight-year blockade, he told to The Cairo Post.

European officials declared Friday the potential opening of a sea path between Gaza and Cyprus to transfer aid, and keep it under the monitoring of European observers. Similar suggestions were made concerning the Rafah border crossing.

“Any solutions regarding aid and rescue to Gaza should be handled by a national committee formed by Palestinian factions, and it will have to communicate with international actors, especially the UN and the EU to define planning and procedures,” Muzher added, urging the opening of land, sea and air ports.

But for the first time, Hamas opted for the control of the Palestinian Authority of the Rafah crossing, in addition to admitting its acceptance of their administration of the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, Izzat al-Risheq, Hamas’ political bureau members told the press, Asharq Al-Awsat reported Tuesday.

The Palestinian side argued their demands were in accordance with the Oslo Accords of 1993 and 1995.

Updates on the situation are expected to come in later Tuesday.

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