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Israel, Palestinian factions agree to 72-hour ceasefire

Aug. 4, 2014 9:23 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 6, 2014 11:24 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Palestinian factions and Israel have agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire starting from 8 a.m. on Tuesday, sources close to talks in Egypt said Monday.

"Egypt's contacts with relevant parties have achieved a commitment for a 72-hour truce in Gaza starting from 0500 GMT tomorrow morning, and an agreement for the rest of the relevant delegations to come to Cairo to conduct further negotiations," a senior official in Egypt told AFP.

"The Palestinians have agreed to a ceasefire proposed by Egypt," Azzam al-Ahmed, leader of the Palestinian delegation, told reporters in Cairo.

Earlier, sources close to the talks told Ma'an that Palestinian factions agreed to a three-day ceasefire which they said is likely to pave the way for a full cessation to fighting.

Representatives from Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, held their first official meeting on Monday after a Palestinian delegation agreed Sunday to joint demands to present to Egyptian mediators.

"There is a consensus among all the Palestinian factions that Gaza can't return to a blockade ... it is a natural right of the people of Gaza to live (freely) as any other people in the world," senior Hamas official, and member of the Palestinian delegation, Ezzat al-Rishq, said.

Azzam al-Ahmed also expressed hope that Israel may still send a team to Cairo.

This could help "Egypt perform its role in halting the (Israeli) aggression and achieving the Palestinian demands through negotiations it is conducting with the two sides," he told reporters.

On Sunday, Palestinian factions agreed on "a ceasefire; Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza; the end of the siege of Gaza and opening its border crossings," said Maher al-Taher, a member of the delegation.

The Palestinian demands also include fishing rights up to 12 nautical miles off Gaza's coast and the release of Palestinian prisoners demanded by Hamas and Abbas, said Taher, a senior official with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Cairo, a traditional broker in Palestinian-Israeli conflicts, has moved to isolate Hamas on its eastern border after the Egyptian military overthrew the Islamist government last year.

Israel's assault on Gaza has killed over 1,800 Palestinians, far surpassing the death toll in Operation Cast Lead.

AFP contributed to this report
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