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Truce talks end with no deal

Aug. 19, 2014 9:53 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 21, 2014 10:10 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A nine-hour session of indirect negotiations between Palestinian and Israeli delegations in Cairo ended Tuesday evening without achieving progress, a source close to the Palestinian delegation said.

Meanwhile, the head of the Palestinian delegation Azzam al-Ahmad said the delegation proposed a new paper for the ceasefire and is awaiting a response in the coming hours.

Al-Ahmad said that the Israeli delegation was trying to “impose what they want,” and that it continues to stall, which is unacceptable to the Palestinian delegation.

“We have five hours remaining, and we hope to receive a response in that period in order to determine the next step,” he added.

Member of the Palestinian ceasefire delegation Izzat al-Rishq said Israel continues to stall and put forth conditions that hinder the simplest of Palestinian demands.

Al-Rishq added that Egypt was leaving the door open despite the difficulties, and reiterated that no agreement was reached.

Earlier Tuesday, Israeli airstrikes injured eight Palestinians, including two children, in the Gaza Strip, a health ministry official said.

Ashraf al-Qidra said two children were moderately wounded in an airstrike on the al-Matar area east of Rafah. Another three Palestinians were injured in the northern Gaza Strip.

Israeli warplanes also targeted agricultural lands in Beit Lahiya, al-Zaytoun, al-Maghazi, Deir al-Balah, Al-Qarara, Khuza, eastern Rafah and eastern Shujaiyya.

Nine days of relative quiet came to an abrupt halt when three rockets struck southern Israel just hours before the truce was to expire at midnight local time.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rockets.

An Israeli official said the negotiating team had been ordered back from Cairo where Egypt has been pushing for a decisive end to the Gaza bloodshed, which has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers.

However, there was no immediate confirmation the team had left.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri denied the movement had fired rockets over the border Tuesday, accusing Israel of trying to sabotage the truce talks.

"We don't have any information about firing rockets from Gaza. The Israeli raids are intended to sabotage the negotiations in Cairo," he told AFP.

The Palestinians say agreement over a long-term arrangement in Gaza has been delayed by Israeli foot-dragging over key issues.

"The negotiations failed on Monday evening because the Israelis refused to include a port or an airport in the agreement," a Palestinian source close to the talks said, on condition of anonymity.

"The Egyptians then added a clause allowing for the postponement of talks on this issue in order to avoid Israel raising the issue of (ridding Gaza of) rockets and missiles," he said.

Israel has repeatedly demanded that Gaza be demilitarized although the subject is not overly mentioned in the Egyptian proposal as seen by AFP.

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