Israel, Terrorists in Day 2 of 'Grueling' Talks

72-hour cease fire is due to end Wednesday night. Israel offered to ease restrictions at 2 of 6 border crossings.

AFP, Gil Ronen ,

Tanks: Op. Protective Edge, Day 18
Tanks: Op. Protective Edge, Day 18

Representatives of Palestinian Arab terror organizations and an Israeli delegation were to resume "grueling" negotiations in Cairo on Tuesday aimed at ending the Gaza conflict, as Egyptian mediators raced to narrow gaps between the warring sides.

In Monday's indirect talks, Israel's delegation pushed for the disarmament of terror groups in the coastal enclave, a demand the Palestinians rejected outright, officials from the two sides said.

Israeli negotiators sought an extension of a 72-hour truce in Gaza that began Monday to allow for further talks, but Egyptian mediators wanted to reach a deal as soon as possible, Palestinian delegation members said.

The fighting since early July has claimed the lives of 1,940 terrorists and civilian residents of the terror entity in Gaza, and 67 people on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers.

Hamas, the terrorist rulers of Gaza, have threatened to resume fighting if their conditions are not met, particularly their demand for an end to the eight-year blockade of Gaza.

Palestinian members of the delegation said Israel had offered to ease restrictions at two of six border crossings, one for travellers and the other for goods under international monitor supervision.

All sides agreed that it would be left to Cairo and the Palestinians to decide on the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, they said.

Palestinian Authority forces loyal to president Mahmud Abbas would deploy along Gaza's border with Israel, the officials said.

"The negotiations are difficult and grueling," one of the officials said of Monday's talks, which lasted for more than nine hours.

Negotiations were set to resume at around noon at the headquarters of Egypt's General Intelligence, which has brokered past ceasefires between Hamas and Israel.

The Palestinians and Israelis sit in different rooms and never see each other, officials attending the talks said.

Egyptian mediators shuttle between the delegations with proposals and counterproposals.

A senior Israeli official told AFP on Tuesday that there had been no progress so far.

"The gaps are still very wide. There has not been progress in the negotiations," the official said, on condition of anonymity.

The Palestinian officials said Israel have rejected the key Hamas demands for an airport and sea port in the Gaza Strip.

Israel, for its part, proposed that terrorists hand over the bodies of two Israeli soldiers killed in the conflict in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, according to one official.

The Palestinian delegation, however, wants a separate deal on such an exchange, not linked to the truce.