PA Urges Hamas: Continue Gaza Truce Talks, Even Without Immediate Guarantees

Ramallah is pushing for acceptance of the Egyptian initiative even if it does not immediately answer Palestinian demands.

AFP

Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian Authoritys chief negotiator, met Saturday with Hamas chief Khaled Meshal and urged him to continue talks with Israel based on the Egyptian initiative, Palestinian sources said.

Erekat and Meshal also reportedly discussed the possibility of the Palestinians becoming a member of the International Criminal Court, with all factions including Hamas abiding by its statutes.

An extended five-day cease-fire in Gaza held Sunday during the Egyptian-mediated talks on a more-permanent truce between Israel and Hamas. An Israeli delegation was expected to return to Cairo in an apparent last-ditch effort to reach an agreement. The talks were expected to last through Monday night, when the temporary cease-fire ends.

A senior Palestinian official told Haaretz that Ramallah is pushing for acceptance of the Egyptian initiative even if it does not immediately answer Palestinian demands. The official said any international resolution would be weak and Israel would evade it, as has happened with UN resolutions.

Only an agreement mediated by Egypt that has international support can achieve positive results in the short term, the official said, adding that Israels proposals did not come close to the Palestinians minimum demands.

Under Egypts proposal, Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza commit not to take any action against the other by sea, air or land, while the Palestinians promise not to dig tunnels into Israel, Egyptian newspaper Al-Shorouk reported Friday.

Key issues also include a seaport and an airport for Gaza, as well as safe passage for Palestinians between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

According to Palestinian officials, Israel is depicting the airport and safe-passage issues as if they were new. An airport operated in Gaza from 1998 to 2001.

Meanwhile, the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat reported Sunday that the United States had told Cairo it would guarantee any agreement between the sides. The paper quoted a Palestinian source involved in the negotiations.

According to Al-Hayat, the source said the talks were proceeding on two tracks. The political track would include the exchange of bodies and the release of prisoners. The humanitarian track would seek a formula for lifting the Gaza blockade immediately.

AP