Future of Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire uncertain
Smoke rises from buildings in Gaza City following Israeli airstrikes - AP
By AMIRA EL-FEKKI

CAIRO: The future of a ceasefire agreement between Israel and the Gaza Strip is uncertain as both negotiation delegations have left Cairo. The Israeli delegation left Cairo Tuesday following hostile exchanges between Israel and Gaza hours before the 24-hour extension of a five-day ceasefire would have ended. The Palestinian delegation left Cairo Wednesday morning.

“There is currently no news about the next step the Palestinian government will take,” the spokesperson of the Palestinian Embassy in Egypt, Nagy al-Nagy, told The Cairo Post. He said the head of the Palestinian delegation, Azzam al-Ahmed, was scheduled to meet Arab League chief Nabil al-Araby Wednesday, but the meeting was cancelled when the delegation left Cairo.

Six people were killed Wednesday morning in Israeli attacks on Gaza, including a pregnant woman, Sky News Arabia reported.

The exchange of attacks between both sides resumed Tuesday, killing a total of 11 people by Wednesday morning, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The latest deaths bring the overall death toll of the 5-week Israeli offensive to 2,028, Lebanese Future TV quoted the ministry as saying Wednesday.

A six-day Cairo-brokered truce came to an end Tuesday at midnight. Both parties blamed each other for the failure of talks in Cairo, and also for breaching the ceasefire agreement.

Qassam Brigades declared responsibility for firing rockets on Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities, saying, “Israel launched a series of air strikes on Gaza shortly before the truce was to end on Tuesday night,” in a statement released on their website Tuesday.

On Tuesday evening before the truce was to end, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) tweeted that “3 rockets fired from Gaza hit Be’er Sheva and Netivot. Terrorists have violated the ceasefire.”

The Palestinian delegation, which had previously expressed optimism towards the success of the talks among Egyptian mediators, has now gone back to taking an opposite stance on the situation. “Israel is imposing the war on us once more, we have no choice but to respond and win,” Hamas member Izzat al-Risheq tweeted Wednesday morning.

This came after Ahmed told the press that Israel “could not accept the idea of a united Palestinian government,” stating that Israel’s “arrogance” was the reason the negotiations failed.

Palestinian sources had been reported as announcing a long-term ceasefire agreement was reached in Cairo before the official results of Monday discussions were announced, and the political bureau of the Popular Front from the Liberation of Palestine told The Cairo Post in previous statements that they believed a “permanent truce” could be reached in that last round of talks.

The Israeli delegation, however, has spoken of “slow progress.” On Monday, Haaretz reported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as telling the ministers’ cabinet, “I didn’t say ‘yes’ to [the Egyptian cease-fire draft proposal] and for now we do not accept it.”

This came after his quarrel with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman because Netanyahu tried last week to hide from cabinet ministers the draft of a cease-fire agreement drawn up by Egypt, Haaretz added.

Palestine has demanded lifting the blockade on Gaza and facilitations to launch the reconstruction of the strip, such as opening border crossings, ports and airports. Israel asked for a guarantee of the “security of the state of Israel,” which demands the demilitarization of Hamas.

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