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The Palestinian delegation to ceasefire negotiation in Cairo
The Palestinian delegation to ceasefire negotiation in Cairo 
 
Palestinian delegation in Cairo
Palestinian delegation in Cairo 
 
 

Hamas: Israel rejected our demand for sea port, end of siege

After Hamas rejects extended truce, renewed rocket fire wounds two Israelis, Egypt works to secure extended lull; Hamas: Israel wasting our time.

Elior Levy
Latest Update: 08.08.14, 19:38 / Israel News

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Israel had rejected most Palestinian demands, "However, we did not close the door and will continue with the negotiations," he said as renewed fighting saw at least five Palestinians killed in IDF attacks and over 60 rockets fired at Israel.

 

 

Egypt called on Friday for an immediate resumption of the ceasefire in Gaza and a return to the negotiating table, saying that only a few outstanding issues remained in negotiations it was mediating between Israel and the Palestinians. 

 

Meanwhile, Hamas official says that as of Friday afternoon "there is no commitment to a ceasefire," while the head of the Palestinian delegation to Cairo ceasefire talks said they would not leave until a deal is reached, indicating tensions between Hamas and the delegation.

 

"The foreign ministry calls on all sides to rise to their responsibilities ... and to return immediately to the ceasefire commitment and exploit the opportunity available to resume negotiations on the very limited sticking points that remain in the fastest possible time," the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.

 

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Palestinian factions will remain in Cairo and press on with Egyptian-mediated talks despite the end of the ceasefire in Gaza, the head of the delegation, Fatah official Azzam Ahmed, said on Friday.

 

Palestinian delegation in Cairo
Palestinian delegation in Cairo

 

"We are not for escalation. We are ready to continue through our Egyptian brothers in negotiating to reach a final agreement that would return the rights to their owners," Ahmed said. "I mean here lifting the blockade of Gaza."

 

The Palestinians had wanted Israel to agree in principle to demands which include lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip, the release of prisoners and the opening of a sea port, but this had been rebuffed, Hamas' Abu Zuhri said.

 

"As of now, Israel has not passed on a response document. Only last night (Thursday) we received a response from the Egyptians, in which not a single Palestinian demand was answered," he said.

 

"The document said nothing about 'lifting the blockage', but only the opening the Erez and Kerem Shalom crossing. But these crossings are already open. Therefore, we see no Israeli acceptance of any of our demands. Israel is dragging its feet; this is what prevented the extension of the ceasefire."

 

IN DEPTH: What does Hamas want, and what might it get?

 

Hamas rejected extending the ceasefire on Friday, but announced it was interested in continuing the negotiations. The barrage of rockets fired on southern Israel after the 72-hour ceasefire expired served as proof of Hamas' reluctance to halt the hostilities.

 

Issaq al-Risheq, a member of Hamas' political leadership who is part of the Palestinian delegation, said "as of now, we have yet to receive a response from Israel regarding even one of our demands. Israel is leading us astray and wasting our time."

 

Mussa Abu Marzook, Hamas' top man in Egypt, said that as of Friday afternoon "there is no commitment to a ceasefire. We will protect our people with everything we have."

 

A Hamas source in Gaza said upcoming hours would see "surprises" in the form of "attack deep in the heart of Israel."

 

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for part of the salvo which broke the calm. Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri said the Palestinian factions did not agree on extending the ceasefire but also clarified they were willing to continue the talks in Cairo.

 

Hamas, essentially, emphasized that it was interesting in conducting negotiations while hostilities continued – a direct rejection of Israel's basic demand of quiet in the south. Other senior Hamas officials also toed the Gaza-based group's position.

 

"We do not agree to extend the lull – the negotiations will continue," said Issaq al-Risheq. Meanwhile, AFP has reported that thousands of Gaza residents have fled their homes, fearing an Israeli retaliation for the rocket fire.

 

Palestinian sources said that during the negotiations, Egyptian intelligence attempted to convince Hamas to extend the ceasefire by 72 hours. However, Hamas relented and clarified that its central demands must first be implemented – focusing on comprehensive end to the blockade on the Strip.

 

In the early morning hours, Hamas officials told Egypt it refused to extend the ceasefire. "It is a final decision. Israel offered us nothing," said one of the Hamas representatives in the Palestinian delegation to Cairo.

 

He noted that "Israel refused to lift the blockade." The meeting between the Palestinian delegation and Egypt's intelligence chief continued until 4:30 am, but according to Hamas did not result in a breakthrough.

 

Roi Kais and AFP contributed to this report.

 

 

First Published: 08.08.14, 16:21

 

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