[Palestinian women and children mourning deaths of their loved ones in their demolished homes in Gaza]
(AFP, Al-Akhbar): Indirect talks between Israel and Hamas in Cairo to broker an end to the Israeli assault on Gaza have so far made no progress, a senior Israeli official said Tuesday.
“The gaps are still very wide. There has not been progress in the negotiations,” he told AFP.
His remarks came as the Egyptian-mediated talks entered their second day and a 72-hour truce held on the ground, bringing relief to Gaza’s 1.8 million population who suffered more than a month of relentless bombardment.
The negotiations are aimed at brokering a long-term ceasefire agreement to end the US-backed Israeli terror campaign launched on July 8 which killed 1,940 Palestinians, the vast majority of them civilians.
Sixty-four Israeli occupation soldiers, two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker were killed on the Israeli side.
Late on Monday, a Palestinian official in Cairo told AFP that the first day of talks had lasted nearly 10 hours.
“The negotiations were serious,” he said, adding that the Israelis were insisting on the demilitarization of Hamas, but that the Palestinians had refused it.
“(Tuesday’s) meeting should be the most important,” he said, indicating the talks were expected to tackle core issues such as the eight-year-old Israeli siege of the territory.
Few details have emerged from the negotiations where a Palestinian delegation, comprising senior officials from the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, is pushing for a removal of the blockade.