Hamas: Ceasefire talks to resume next week
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Hamas: Ceasefire talks to resume next week

Second stage of negotiations on details of long-term truce will begin before September 24, Moussa Abu Marzouk says

Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk (photo credit: AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
Senior Hamas leader Moussa Abu Marzouk (photo credit: AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said Wednesday evening that indirect talks between the Palestinians and Israel are to resume within the week.

Abu Marzouk told the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency that negotiations on the details of a long-term ceasefire in the wake of this summer’s war “would definitely be before the 24th of the current month,” although a specific date had yet to be set.

Since a ceasefire — predicated on two stages of negotiations — was declared in Cairo on August 26, there have been conflicting reports on when the talks would reconvene.

Senior Defense Ministry official Amos Gilad said Saturday that the ceasefire talks with Hamas and other Gaza-based terror groups were set to resume within the month but a date had yet to be set. Gilad was part of a five-man Israeli delegation to the Cairo talks that eventually reached the ceasefire agreement that ended the fighting.

Meanwhile, Israeli officials, responding to an address by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on September 13, questioned whether Hamas was really interested in renewing ceasefire negotiations. Officials also assessed that the likelihood that talks would resume was slim.

Abu Marzouk was subject to fierce criticism from the Hamas leadership after he suggested last Thursday that the group could negotiate directly with Israel — something it has never done before.

Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal in Doha, the Qatari capital, August 2014. (screen capture, Yahoo News)
Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal in Doha, the Qatari capital, August 2014. (screen capture, Yahoo News)

Fifty days of deadly fighting between Israel and terrorists in Gaza that killed approximately 2,100 Palestinians — about 1,000 of them combatants, Israel says — and 72 Israelis, ended on August 26 with an open-ended truce agreement. Israel said it would ease restrictions on movement of personnel and goods through the two crossings into Gaza which it controls, but core issues of dispute were set to be negotiated in indirect talks in Cairo after a month.

Under the terms of the deal, the parties agreed to resume the Egyptian-brokered negotiations to discuss, among other issues, a Hamas demand for a port and an airport, a prisoner swap and Israel’s insistence on Gaza terrorists disarming. Israel has ruled out removing controls over access to Gaza, as has Egypt, unless or until Hamas disarms, which Hamas refuses to do. Hamas, designated a terrorist group by Israel and much of the international community, seized control of Gaza in a violent coup against the Palestinian Authority in 2007.

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