Ceasefire talks at dead end, Palestinian official says

Source says Israel’s announcement that anti-tunnel operations will continue undermines efforts to secure truce

Avi Issacharoff

Avi Issacharoff, The Times of Israel's Middle East analyst, fills the same role for Walla, the leading portal in Israel. He is also a guest commentator on many different radio shows and current affairs programs on television. Until 2012, he was a reporter and commentator on Arab affairs for the Haaretz newspaper. He also lectures on modern Palestinian history at Tel Aviv University, and is currently writing a script for an action-drama series for the Israeli satellite Television "YES." Born in Jerusalem, he graduated cum laude from Ben Gurion University with a B.A. in Middle Eastern studies and then earned his M.A. from Tel Aviv University on the same subject, also cum laude. A fluent Arabic speaker, Avi was the Middle East Affairs correspondent for Israeli Public Radio covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the war in Iraq and the Arab countries between the years 2003-2006. Avi directed and edited short documentary films on Israeli television programs dealing with the Middle East. In 2002 he won the "best reporter" award for the "Israel Radio” for his coverage of the second intifada. In 2004, together with Amos Harel, he wrote "The Seventh War - How we won and why we lost the war with the Palestinians." A year later the book won an award from the Institute for Strategic Studies for containing the best research on security affairs in Israel. In 2008, Issacharoff and Harel published their second book, entitled "34 Days - The Story of the Second Lebanon War," which won the same prize.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (center), during the war in Gaza, summer 2014 (photo credit: Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry/Flash90)
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (center), during the war in Gaza, summer 2014 (photo credit: Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry/Flash90)

The ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas are at a dead end, a senior Palestinian official told The Times of Israel on Thursday.

According to the official, there have been a series of efforts and consultations since yesterday aimed at finding agreement for a 72-hour truce.

Throughout the consultations, Israel has insisted that the IDF will continue to operate during the truce period against tunnels that cross into Israel, while Hamas insisted that anti-tunnel activities stop. Still, Hamas has reportedly given its consent for IDF troops to remain in Gaza for the duration of the truce.

The Israeli government’s announcement earlier Thursday that the IDF’s anti-tunnel activities would continue with or without a ceasefire was undermining the ceasefire efforts, the official said.

He added that Palestinian delegations could only go to Cairo for talks after a ceasefire was already in place, this is apparently an Egyptian demand. He said that on that, too, there was no agreement.

The official added that an Israeli unilateral withdrawal from Gaza would place Hamas in a difficult position, since it would not have achieved any of its demands for stopping the fighting from its side.

On Wednesday, a three-person Israeli delegation held talks in Cairo with Egyptian officials on a possible ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that he remained hopeful for a ceasefire, but declined to predict when it would take effect.

Kerry, on a visit to India, said he remained in close contact on the telephone with players in the Middle East to try to end the conflict.

“The United States remains hopeful that it is achievable, and the sooner the better,” Kerry said.

Times of Israel staff and AFP contributed to this report.

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