Fatah delegation in Cairo
Fatah delegation in Cairo Reuters

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Cairo on Tuesday agreed to schedule new talks on a durable Gaza ceasefire for the last week of October, a Hamas official said.

A delay in the talks after their first Egypt-mediated negotiations since the end last month of a devastating 50-day war in Gaza had been expected, because of upcoming Jewish and Muslim holidays.

The Palestinian delegation, which includes rival factions Hamas and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah, will remain in Cairo this week to discuss resolving their own disputes.

"We finished the indirect negotiations... it was agreed to resume them in the last week of October," wrote senior Hamas negotiator Ezzat al-Rishq on his Facebook page.

The Israeli negotiators left Cairo after Tuesday's talks, an official at Cairo airport said.

The talks were temporarily halted Tuesday as the Hamas team briefly walked out after Israeli security forces killed two Hamas terrorists who kidnapped and murdered three Israeli teens back in June. 

That incident shocked Israel and led to weeks of simmering violence culminating in the war between Israel and terrorists in Gaza.

The war ended on August 26 with an agreement to hold future talks on Hamas demands to end an eight-year partial blockade of Gaza and exchange prisoners in Israeli jails for the remains of Israeli soldiers killed in Gaza.

Rishq said the Palestinian negotiators in Cairo proposed that the talks in October center on reconstructing Gaza and setting up air and sea ports in the Mediterranean enclave.

Israel has insisted that Hamas, which possesses a considerable arsenal of short- and medium-range rockets, disarm.

The July-August war caused a vast amount of destruction to homes and infrastructure in Gaza, as Hamas and Islamic Jihad pursued a policy of using the civilian infrastructure to launch attacks against Israeli civilians and soldiers. More than 100,000 Gazans were left homeless as a result of the subsequent Israeli airstrikes on terrorist positions, according to the United Nations.

Cairo is set to host an international donor conference on October 12 on reconstruction, amid warnings that the Palestinian Authority should manage the work and the funds allocated to it, urging Hamas to hand over power in Gaza to the PA.

Hamas, which is designated as a terrorist group by the United States, Israel and the European Union, will also hold separate negotiations in Cairo with Fatah representatives on Wednesday and Thursday.

The factions formed a unity government in June to end a seven-year rift during which Hamas seized control of Gaza, and the Islamists remain the de facto rulers of the coastal enclave.

The talks in Cairo will focus on the transfer of power in Gaza to the national unity government and on security there, a member of the Fatah delegation said.

They are also expected to address withheld salaries for Hamas civil servants in Gaza, one of the main stumbling blocks to implementing the reconciliation deal.  

Relations between Fatah and Hamas were further strained during the summer war, both due to a foiled coup attempt by Hamas against the PA in Judea and Samaria.

Fatah officials have also accused Hamas of imprisoning and summarily executing or maiming dozens of Fatah members during the war, and covering their actions by labeling the victims as Israeli informants or "collaborators".

AFP contributed to this report.

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