Hamas: Cairo Talks to Resume

Abu Marzuq insists talks to resume by September 25, as deadline to discuss Gaza's laundry list of demands looms.

AFP and Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Palestinian delegation at Cairo talks
Palestinian delegation at Cairo talks
Reuters

Hamas's exiled deputy leader said Wednesday that indirect talks with Israel to consolidate a Gaza ceasefire are to resume in Cairo in mid-September.

Fifty days of deadly fighting between Israel and Hamas terrorists ended on August 26 with an open-ended truce agreement.

Under terms of the deal, the parties agreed to resume Egyptian-brokered negotiations within a month to discuss key issues, including Hamas's unprecedented demand for a port and an airport and for terrorist releases, as well as Israel's demands for the area's demilitarization. 

Speaking to reporters in Gaza City during a visit from his base in Cairo, Mussa Abu Marzuq said it was "expected that the talks would resume in mid-September."

Israel agreed as part of the initial ceasefire to immediately ease restrictions on the entry of goods, humanitarian aid and construction materials into Gaza, and to expand the fishing zone off Gaza to six nautical miles.

All other issues would be delayed until the negotiators returned to Cairo, although there has been no official word on when that would happen.

"The Egyptians still have to give us the exact date," Abu Marzuq said.

In a bid to pin down a date, Egyptian negotiators visited Jerusalem and Ramallah last week, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organization told Voice of Palestine radio Wednesday.

"This was the aim of the Egyptian delegation's visit to Ramallah and Israel. They spoke of resuming the negotiations in two weeks, between September 20-25," said Bassem al-Salhi, who was part of the Palestinian team involved in truce talks.

A senior Egyptian official told AFP in Cairo that no date had been set for the negotiations to resume, but confirmed a "security delegation" had visited Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority (PA) political headquarters of Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Abu Marzuq said the Palestinians Arabs were "determined to resume the talks" and that he expected the same from Israel.

There was no official comment from Israel on when the Cairo talks would resume.

Concerns on the Israeli side are high that Hamas is using the talks to stall time - possibly to re-arm for an even bigger war against Israel, and this time from Judea and Samaria.

On Tuesday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied reports that the terror group would resume rockets on Israeli civilians as soon as the month-long ceasefire ended on September 25, as well as its assurance that it is eyeing a takeover in Abbas's PA. 

Last month, as Operation Protective Edge was still underway, Israeli security forces say they broke up a major Hamas cell planning a coup against the PA.

If the latest reports are indeed true, it would indicate that Hamas's leadership has not given up its ambitions in Judea and Samaria despite the setback.

Moreover, Hamas's set of demands include lifting all of the restrictions which prevent the terror organization from re-arming - including some or all export and import restrictions and releasing top terrorists back into the field. 



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