Egypt mediates Gaza truce talks between Israel, Palestinians

CAIRO - Egyptian officials mediating talks for a durable truce in Gaza, met a Palestinian delegation Wednesday to relay terms led down by an Israeli team, Palestinian officials said.


The Egyptian intelligence mediators had met with the Israeli delegation in Cairo during the night, the officials said.


Wednesday's shuttle diplomacy came as a fragile ceasefire in the Gaza strip after a month of fighting between Hamas and Israeli forces appeared to be holding for a second day.


Palestinian officials in Cairo said they would respond to the Israeli terms through the Egyptian officials, although a senior Hamas official has already rejected an Israeli demand that militants in Gaza disarm.


Meanwhile international Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair and UN Middle East peace process coordinator Robert Serry were scheduled to hold talks with Egyptian officials later on Wednesday.


The Egyptian-mediated 72-hour ceasefire that went into effect on Tuesday has brought relief to both sides after fighting that erupted on July 8 killed 1,875 Palestinians and 67 people on the Israeli side.


The talks in Cairo are aimed at securing a durable ceasefire after the three-day window closes.


Experts say the underlying problems in Gaza, a small coastal enclave flanked by Israel and Egypt that has undergone three conflicts with Israel since 2008 would also have to be addressed.


US Secretary of State John Kerry, in a BBC interview, called for a sustained ceasefire but stressed that the crucial wider issues would need to be tackled.


 

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