CAIRO, August 12. /ITAR-TASS/. Indirect talks between the Palestinian and Israeli delegations in Cairo are proceeding in a difficult and serious atmosphere, deputy head of Hamas' political bureau Moussa Abu Marzouk said on Tuesday.
The new round of talks over a permanent truce in the Gaza Strip began in the Egyptian capital on Monday, as Palestinian factions and Israel negotiated a new 72-hour ceasefire in the coastal enclave starting at 12am local time.
The talks are hard and tiresome, Abu Marzouk said, adding that the first ceasefire, effective from Tuesday through Friday, did not yield tangible results and that the current ceasefire was the last one. The serious approach is now obvious and the Palestinian delegation is expected to defend the demands and hopes of the Palestinians, he said.
A number of key issues remain on the agenda of the consultations on which the sides have been unable to agree.
For example, the Palestinians continue to insist on full cancellation of the blockade of the Gaza Strip imposed in 2006. The Israelis demand de-militarization of the enclave which Palestinian factions flatly reject.
According to sources close to the negotiations, Israel objects to the opening of an airport and a seaport in Gaza, contrary to their opponents' demands. As of now, it can only agree to the resumption of the operation of the Rafah checkpoint on the border with Egypt and supply of essential goods and construction materials to the enclave.
As for the disarmament of Palestinian faction, al-Mayadeen channel reported on Tuesday that the Egyptian mediators had refused to put up the issue for discussion in any form. However, the channel noted certain quality progress at the talks which were proceeding quite slowly.
On Monday evening, the Israeli delegation temporarily left Cairo for consultations with the leadership of Israel. On Tuesday, the emissaries returned to the Egyptian capital to continue the negotiations.
Meanwhile, HAMAS accused the Israelis on Tuesday of violating the ceasefire, stating that their patrol ships had fired on Palestinian fishermen's boats near Rafah. The Israeli army quickly denied the reports saying it had launched a probe.