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Middle East

Israelis and Palestinians to resume Cairo talks

media Gazan children ni Khan Yunis on August 14, 2014. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Israeli and Palestinian factions are poised to meet in Cairo on Sunday with Egyptian mediators. Israeli officials are holding indirect talks with factions from Fatah, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the hope of agreeing to a permanent ceasefire, with the current truce scheduled to end at midnight on Monday.

Egypt has offered a "final proposal", asking that Israel and Palestinian groups in Gaza guarantee not to take any action against each other by "sea, air or land." It also demands that Palestinian groups refrain from digging any tunnels into Israel.

But a split between Palestinian factions has cast doubt on whether this will be successful.

The agreement would see a strengthening of relations between the West Bank and Gaza, with coordination on security forces in Gaza and on financial issues. It seeks to narrow the buffer zone within Gaza to 300 meters and gradually expand the fishing zone off Gaza's coast, asking that Israel would help international rebuilding efforts.

The terms of the deal would serve as an endorsement of the unity government brokered prior to the fighting that began on the 8th July, something that Israel is expected to reject.

But questions are already arising on the wording of the document. Hamas officials have said that they are unwilling to delay any discussions around building a seaport and airport in Gaza. There are also concerns about whether and how the Israeli blockade of the Strip will continue.

With the ceasefire due to end tomorrow evening, tensions are running high in an attempt to clarify what this agreement could mean on the ground and get both sides to agree before time runs out.
 

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