Palestinians: Egypt pledged to make every effort to meet our truce demands
Cairo hosts first talks on ending month-long Gaza conflict; Israel does not send delegation, Hamas and Islamic Jihad do.
Palestinian sources said Monday that Egypt had promised to do its utmost to ensure the joint Palestinian demands for a truce in Gaza were met, Egypt's official MENA news agency reported.



The Palestinian groups, including representatives from Hamas and Islamic Jihad, held their first formal meeting in Cairo earlier Monday, with Egyptian mediators hoping to pave the way towards a durable ceasefire agreement with Israel after almost a month of an IDF operation in Gaza and near-constant rocket fire on Israel.


Egyptian diplomatic sources said, however, while Cairo might contemplate easing the limited freedom of movement across its border with Gaza, it was unlikely to accept Palestinian calls to allow a normal flow of trade.


Palestinian delegation to Cairo talks
Palestinian delegation to Cairo talks


The talks focused on a list of demands agreed by the Palestinian factions on Sunday, including an appeal to Egypt to ease movement across its own border crossing with blockaded Gaza. It was not clear how far the talks would progress, however, after Israel declined to send its envoys.


Palestinian demands include a ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, the lifting of the blockade on the area, the release of prisoners and the start of a reconstruction process, delegation members said on Sunday.


The talks began at noon (0900 GMT) under the auspices of Egypt's powerful intelligence service and lasted about two hours. Reuters phone calls to Palestinian delegates immediately after the meeting went unanswered.


Egypt insists that any discussion over the Rafah border crossing takes place bilaterally with the Palestinian Authority rather than as part of any overall deal between the Palestinians and Israel to ease the Israeli blockade, the sources say.


Like Israel, Egypt opposes Hamas and has long positioned itself as a mediator in successive conflicts in Gaza but has struggled to seal a deal in the latest fighting.


Media speculation that US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns would fly to Egypt to participate in indirect truce talks had not been borne out by Monday. A US embassy official declined to say if or when Burns might arrive.


A US and UN-brokered ceasefire proposal broke down within two hours on Friday, with Israel and Hamas trading blame.


Israel began its air and naval offensive against Gaza on July 8 after a surge of cross-border rocket salvoes by Hamas and others. Israel later launched ground incursions.


Officials in the Hamas-controlled Gaza say 1,804 Palestinians have been killed and more than a quarter of its 1.8 million residents have been displaced. Most of the dead, the officials say, were civilians,


Israel has confirmed that 64 soldiers have died in combat, while Palestinian shelling has killed three civilians in Israel.


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