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Clock ticks down to Gaza truce deadline
Published Wednesday 13/08/2014 (updated) 14/08/2014 10:16
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Palestinians crowd a metal window as they try to hand over their
documents to UN workers through a window at a UN compound in
Gaza City on August 12, 2014, in order to receive food aid
(AFP Roberto Schmidt)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will enter a final day of ceasefire talks in Cairo on Wednesday, as the clock ticks towards a 12 a.m. deadline ending a 72-hour truce.

By that time, the negotiators must have either agreed on a permanent truce, accepted an extension or risk a resumption of more than a month of bloody fighting.

"There has been progress, but not enough to sign an agreement; the negotiations will resume tomorrow (Wednesday)," a member of the Palestinian delegation told AFP late on Tuesday, without giving further details.

As on previous days, the Israeli team returned home after talks, for likely consultations with their government.

As Gaza's residents ventured out into the quiet to try to piece together their battered lives, negotiators held a second round of indirect talks Tuesday aimed at finding a durable end to the five-week confrontation.

But officials said there was still a way to go to agree an end to the conflict, which erupted on July 8.

"The negotiations are difficult and grueling," a Palestinian official had said of Monday's opening talks, which lasted almost 10 hours and which were described as "serious."

And early on Tuesday, an Israeli official had played down the chances of success.

"The gaps are still very wide. There has not been progress in the negotiations," he told AFP.

The teams gather in separate rooms at the headquarters of the Egyptian General Intelligence and never see each other, with mediators shuttling between them with proposals and counter-proposals, a source said.

Hamas wants Israel to lift the blockade it imposed on Gaza in 2006 before it will stop rocket attacks. Israel has said it will only facilitate Gaza's reconstruction if the enclave is fully disarmed.

In Istanbul, a coalition of pro-Palestinian activists said they would send a flotilla of blockade-busting ships to Gaza by the end of 2014, four years after a similar attempt ended in bloodshed when Israel staged a deadly raid in an attempt to stop it.

In a sign that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faced domestic political battles to sell any deal to his fractious coalition, he called off a planned meeting of his security cabinet on Tuesday.

Instead, he invited key ministers, mainly hawks, for private meetings, Israeli media reported.

Palestinian men sit near a makeshift tent in a street in Beit Hanoun,
northern Gaza Strip, on Aug. 12, 2014 (AFP Roberto Schmidt)

Poised to resume fire

Egypt brokered the three-day truce which took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, and has urged the warring sides to make every effort to reach "a comprehensive and permanent ceasefire."

Efforts to extend a similar 72-hour lull last week collapsed when Hamas refused to hold its fire beyond the deadline, accusing Israel of rejecting a lifting of the blockade.

Both sides said they were ready to resume hostilities if the talks failed again.

Finance Minister Yair Lapid told AFP earlier this week that he was pushing for an international conference on Gaza's future that would involve regional players as well as Washington, the European Union, and Arab states such as Saudi Arabia.

"We think that Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas should take control of Gaza and be active in its reconstruction," the minister told AFP.

Palestinian negotiators have expressed a willingness to see the PA assume responsibility for Gaza's reconstruction and implement any deal signed in Cairo.

Israel has no direct dealings with Hamas.

Anger at UN probe team

Meanwhile, Israel lashed out after the UN Human Rights Council named experts who would be involved in an inquiry into its Gaza campaign, accusing commission leader, William Schabas, of having an anti-Israeli bias.

"This commission's anti-Israeli conclusions have already been written, all it needs is a signature," railed foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.

Schabas denies being anti-Israel.

Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Maliki said the UN probe would prove Israel committed war crimes and violated humanitarian law during its Gaza offensive.

"We are going to cooperate with this commission when it arrives in Palestine," he said while visiting Caracas.
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1 ) HAMAS IS IN CONTROL / 'if they want they
13/08/2014 10:04
renew the war, if they want they stop fire Israel only FOLLOWS!

2 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
13/08/2014 10:05
Hamas is a jihadist organization. They say so themselves. Their goal is war, not peace. The UN is a bureaucratic organization. The UN's goal is to preserve itself and the high-paying jobs it creates for an elite , not make peace. Nobody likes Hamas except Turkey and Qatar. Nobody in the civilized world wants Hamas to get more rockets and weapons, but they're too dumbed down to think it through. So looks like Hamas will get their way and start shooting again. This is what Hamas wants.

3 ) Candice / New Zealand
13/08/2014 10:48
The seventh truce in the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict will end Wednesday night Aug. 13, with fresh hostilities triggered by Hamas rockets.

4 ) Christian / Lebanon
13/08/2014 10:54
Mel/USA do they pay you with a sheep to write your diatribe?
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