Israel and Hamas have both announced that they are prepared for whatever outcome there is from the indirect talks occuring in Cairo in the wake of a 24-hour ceasefire extension at Egypt’s request.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri blamed Israel for the lack of progress in the talks on Tuesday, telling it not to “waste the opportunity”. He stressed the group’s “readiness to deal with all possibilities and developments”.
The 24-hour ceasefire extension will see the truce expire at midnight on Tuesday.
Similarly, Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon insisted on Monday that Operation Protective Edge had not ended. The operation began on 8 July as a response to rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. Yaalon stressed: “As we promised, we will not stop until we bring quiet and security. We are prepared for the results of the discussions in Cairo whether it brings quiet or if someone tries to challenge us with escalation.”
Azzam Al-Ahmad, who was appointed head of the cross-faction delegation by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, confirmed on Monday night that the ceasefire agreement had been extended by further 24-hoursa and the two sides will “agree or not agree”, according to the Palestinian embassy in Cairo press centre. He also blamed the Israeli side for delaying progress in the indirect talks and that there has been “no progress in the Palestinian’s demands”.
One of the main Palestinian demands, that Hamas has pushed for since it rejected Egypt’s ceasefire initiative on 14 July, is the lifting of the air, land and sea blockade that has been in place since 2007.
Al-Ahmad alluded to interference in the talks, saying: “There are hidden fingers trying to put obstacles in front of the Egyptian Initiative.”
One of the Hamas representatives, Izzat Rishq, said on Monday that the extension was agreed upon “at the request of the mediator [Egypt] to provide an additional chance”.
The Israeli foreign ministry also confirmed the ceasefire extension and citied Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who stressed: “The Israeli team in Cairo has been instructed to insist on Israel’s security needs and the [Israeli Defense Forces] is prepared for very action strong action if fire is resumed”.
Deputy Spokeswoman for the United States Department of State Marie Harf stressed that the US is not leading the negotiations. She said: “This is about the Egyptians mediating a process with the different parties to see if they can agree to something.”
The latest militarised conflict between Israel and Palestinian factions based in Gaza has killed over 2,000 people and left thousands in Gaza displaced. Egypt and Norway announced on Monday their intention to co-host an international donor conference to assist the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, which has suffered extensive damage as a result of the conflict.