Egyptian Diplomat: No Date Yet for Ceasefire Talks
Egypt’s ambassador to the Palestinian Authority said on Monday that Cairo is in contact with Palestinian Arab and Israeli officials to determine a date for further ceasefire talks following a cessation to hostilities last week.
The ambassador, Wael Atiyeh, told the PA-based Ma'an news agency that a date has not yet been set for a return to negotiations and an agenda still needs to be finalized for upcoming meetings in Cairo.
Egypt and Palestinian Arab officials are still discussing arrangements to deploy presidential guards at the Rafah crossing and along Gaza's border with Egypt, he added.
The sides are expected to meet in Cairo in order to work out several issues, including Hamas’s demands for a seaport and airport in Gaza and Israel’s demand that Gaza be demilitarized.
Israel’s demand has been flatly rejected, with Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri saying Saturday that "our people will not allow it. It is not required to disarm the Palestinian people, but rather to disarm the (Israeli) occupation and to ban the American administration from providing it with the weapons that are used to kill children and women."
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon last Friday rejected Hamas’s seaport and airport demand, saying that "there is no chance that Hamas will receive a seaport - it is not in Israel's interest, it is not an Egyptian interest, it's not even in the interest of the Palestinian Authority."
However, senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar declared last Tuesday that his group would build a seaport and airport in Gaza, even without permission. He hinted construction materials brought in to reconstruct Gaza would be used for the projects, which threaten Israel's security by increasing Hamas's ability to smuggle in weapons.