Palestinians, Israelis face Day 2 of talks
Updated: 2014-08-13 07:42
By Agence France-Presse in Cairo (China Daily)
Participants take part in a silent protest organized as part of the "Jews And Arabs Refuse To Be Enemies" campaign on Monday in New York. Don Emmert / Agence France-Presse
Official describes Monday's 9 hours of negotiations as 'difficult and grueling'
Palestinian and Israeli delegations on Tuesday were to resume "grueling" negotiations in Cairo aimed at ending the Gaza conflict as Egyptian mediators raced to narrow gaps between the warring sides.
In Monday's indirect talks, Israel's delegation pushed for the disarmament of militant groups in the coastal enclave, a demand the Palestinians rejected outright, officials from the two sides said.
Israeli negotiators sought an extension of a 72-hour truce in Gaza that began on Monday to allow for further talks, but Egyptian mediators wanted to reach a deal as soon as possible, Palestinian delegation members said.
The fighting since early July has claimed the lives of 1,940 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and 67 people on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers.
Hamas, the militant de facto rulers of Gaza, have threatened to resume fighting if their conditions are not met, particularly their demand for an end to the eight-year blockade of Gaza.
Palestinian members of the delegation said Israel had offered to ease restrictions at two of six border crossings, one for travelers and the other for goods under international monitor supervision.
All sides agreed that it would be left to Cairo and the Palestinians to decide on the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, they said.
Palestinian Authority forces loyal to President Mahmud Abbas would deploy along Gaza's border with Israel, the officials said.
"The negotiations are difficult and grueling," one of the officials said of Monday's talks, which lasted for more than nine hours.
Negotiations were set to resume at about noon at the headquarters of Egypt's General Intelligence, which has brokered past cease-fires between Hamas and Israel.
The Palestinians and Israelis sit in different rooms and never see each other, officials attending the talks said.
Egyptian mediators shuttle between the delegations with proposals and counterproposals.
A senior Israeli official told AFP on Tuesday that there had been no progress so far.
"The gaps are still very wide. There has not been progress in the negotiations," the official said on condition of anonymity.
The Palestinian officials said Israel has rejected the key Hamas demands for an airport and seaport in the Gaza Strip.
Israel, for its part, proposed that militants hand over the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in the conflict in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, according to one official.
The Palestinian delegation, however, wants a separate deal on such an exchange, one not linked to the truce.