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Israel 'refusing to make concessions' at Cairo talks

Aug. 19, 2014 10:20 A.M. (Updated: Aug. 20, 2014 3:23 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Ceasefire talks are at risk of collapse given Israel's refusal to make concessions, members of the Palestinian delegation to Cairo said late Monday.

"Israel is seeking to break the confidence between Palestinians and the Egyptian mediators by refusing to make any concessions," said Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh.

Al-Batsh said the delegation agreed to extend the ceasefire for 24 hours based on their concern for Palestinians in Gaza.

Meanwhile, he told Ma'an the Palestinian negotiators remained determined to "realize our people's demands, which are worthy of the sacrifices made in the Gaza Strip."

The Israeli government is responsible for potential failure to reach an agreement in Cairo, al-Batsh added.

A Fatah member of the delegation concurred, saying the Israeli delegation had worked hard to obtain a long-term ceasefire without "signing a meaningful agreement."

"They avoided any agreement in an attempt to continue their unilateral plans to have control over everything, as they have done in the past," Fatah MP Faysal Abu Shahla said in a statement.

The comments came after Israeli and Palestinian negotiators agreed to extend a five-day ceasefire for another day just hours before it was set to expire at midnight Monday.

Palestinian sources in Cairo had told Ma'an earlier Monday that a long-term ceasefire agreement was being finalized after 15 days of Egypt-sponsored negotiations.

But al-Batsh denied the claims, saying: "If progress was made with any issue being negotiated, we would have notified all media outlets."

As diplomatic efforts continued, Gaza's health ministry said the death toll from Israel's month-long assault on the Strip rose above 2,000 as more people succumbed to injuries and bodies were found under rubble. The figures showed 2,016 people had been killed and another 10,196 wounded.

Among the dead were 541 children, the ministry said.
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