Seaport, prisoners derail Gaza ceasefire talks: Officials

By Hagar al-Dosoki, Friday, August 08, 2014

Israel's rejection of Palestinian demands of creating a seaport and release of prisoners has derailed Egypt-hosted talks aimed at reaching a durable ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, two Egyptian officials said.

Israel's rejection of Palestinian demands of creating a seaport and release of prisoners has derailed Egypt-hosted talks aimed at reaching a durable ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, two Egyptian officials said.

CAIRO – Israel's rejection of Palestinian demands of creating a seaport and release of prisoners has derailed Egypt-hosted talks aimed at reaching a durable ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, two Egyptian officials said.

"Over the last round of talks, Israel did not hold on to its condition of disarming the resistance as much as it held on to its refusal to build a seaport on the Gaza coast," an Egyptian official told Anadolu Agency on Friday.

He said Israel has also refused to release hundreds of prisoners arrested in the West Bank since June, during search operations for three Israeli settlers, who were later found dead near the southern city of Hebron.

Israel has accused Hamas of abducting the trio.

"Israel has also refused to release the last batch of Palestinian prisoners, who have been detained before the signing of the Oslo Accords and who were scheduled to be released in June," another Egyptian official told AA.

Violence flared up in the Palestinian territories on Friday after the expiry of a three-day ceasefire between Israel and Gaza-based Palestinian factions.

The brief lull was brokered by Egypt following a month of incessant Israeli strikes against the Gaza Strip that left 1894 Palestinians dead and 9817 others injured.

Palestinian factions and Israel held indirect talks in Cairo to extend the ceasefire, but no agreement was reached as Palestinian factions linked the extension to Israel's approval of their demands, including lifting a years-long blockade on the Gaza Strip and building a seaport.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Amira Oron accused Hamas of hindering the talks aimed at reaching a long-term ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

"The seaport issue is a stumbling block in the talks," Oron told AA.

"We cannot accept it. This is a terrorist group we're dealing with," she said, in reference to the Israeli government's designation of Hamas.

She went on to say that "The prisoners who have been arrested in June are currently being interrogated".

"Moreover, the Palestinian Authority is the only entity eligible to speak for the West Bank prisoners," the spokeswoman said.

The Gaza Strip, home to 1.8 million Palestinians, has been reeling under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2006, badly affecting the livelihood in the seaside enclave.

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