CAIRO: The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was extended for a day after negotiating parties failed to reach an agreement before the original deadline on Tuesday, head of the Palestinian negotiation delegation to Cairo Azzam al-Ahmed told Haaretz.
“No progress has been made in the talks due to Israel’s foot-dragging … Everything you have heard in the media about progress is untrue. I hope we will use every minute tomorrow to reach a deal. Maybe we will reach an agreement and maybe not,” Haaretz quoted Ahmed as saying.
Reports surfaced about an Israeli-Palestinian agreement hours before the deadline of a truce in Gaza Tuesday. The deal includes opening six Gaza crossings and expanding fishing activities to 12 miles off the coast, Al-Arabiya reported.
Al Jazeera reported Palestinian sources as saying that the discussed agreement includes supervision over all border crossings by the Palestinian Authority, allowing long-forbidden buildings materials into the strip under international supervision, extension of the fishing zone from 6 to 12 nautical miles in six months, launching talks on building a Gaza seaport, and the release of prisoners in a month after the agreement.
The Israeli delegation returned to their home country to discuss the agreement with their decision makers. The Palestinian Popular Resistance Committee said it would resume firing rockets into Israel after midnight, according to Al Jazeera.
While Palestinian sources told Sky News Arabia that an agreement would be announced soon, Haaretz reported that Israeli officials are doubtful that an agreement will be reached before the deadline.
“It is still not clear if we can reach an agreement,” a senior Israeli official told Haaretz. “If the [rocket] fire resumes, Israel will respond forcefully. And if the fire does not resume but no agreement is reached, we will examine whether we can come to some other arrangement and provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.”
Palestinian and Egyptians sources told Haaretz that although “there is a clear trend toward a continuation of the calm,” the potential pact would be a declaration of intent with the most major issues being postponed.
Of the most disputed issues between both sides are the demilitarization of Gaza, a maritime port, and an airport at the strip.
More than 2,000 Palestinians were killed and more than 10,000 were injured due to Israel’s five-week offensive called Protective Edge, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Three Israeli civilians and 67 soldiers were killed in the conflict in the same period.
Egypt and Norway plan to co-host a donor conference in Cairo once a ceasefire agreement is reached, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry of Norway Monday morning.