Hamas’s exiled deputy leader said Wednesday that indirect talks with Israel to consolidate a Gaza ceasefire are to resume in Cairo in mid-September.
Fifty days of deadly fighting between Israel and Gaza militants which killed more than 2,140 Palestinians and 73 on the Israeli side, ended on August 26 with an open-ended truce agreement.
Under terms of the deal, the parties agreed to resume Egyptian-brokered negotiations within a month to discuss key issues, including a Hamas demand for a port and an airport, a prisoner swap and Israel’s insistence on Gaza militants disarming.
Speaking to reporters in Gaza City during a visit from his base in Cairo, Mussa Abu Marzuq said it was “expected that the talks would resume in mid-September.”
Israel agreed as part of the initial ceasefire to immediately ease restrictions on the entry of goods, humanitarian aid and construction materials into Gaza, and to expand the fishing zone off Gaza to six nautical miles.
All other issues would be delayed until the negotiators returned to Cairo, although there has been no official word on when that would happen.
“The Egyptians still have to give us the exact date,” Abu Marzuq said.
In a bid to pin down a date, Egyptian negotiators visited Jerusalem and Ramallah last week, a senior member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation told Voice of Palestine radio Wednesday.
“This was the aim of the Egyptian delegation’s visit to Ramallah and Israel. They spoke of resuming the negotiations in two weeks, between September 20-25,” said Bassem al-Salhi, who was part of the Palestinian team involved in truce talks.
A senior Egyptian official told AFP in Cairo that no date had been set for the negotiations to resume, but confirmed a “security delegation” had visited Ramallah, the West Bank political headquarters of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
Abu Marzuq said the Palestinians were “determined to resume the talks” and that he expected the same from Israel.
There was no official comment from Israel on when the Cairo talks would resume.
Officials close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have already dug their heels in, ruling out any chance of reopening Gaza’s battered port or airport.
And Palestinian officials have ruled out Israel’s demand for demilitarisation.