Cairo cease-fire talks resume with clock ticking down to midnight

Member of Palestinian delegation says sides focusing on Hamas's demands that Israel lift blockade on Gaza, allow airport and seaport in the Strip.

Cease fire talks in Cairo  (photo credit: REUTERS)
Cease fire talks in Cairo
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed indirect cease-fire talks in Cairo on Tuesday after the sides agreed to extend the temporary truce in Gaza for an additional 24 hours until Tuesday at midnight.
Israel Radio quoted Kais Abdel Karim, a member of the Palestinian delegation to the talks as saying that the sides were mainly discussing Hamas's demands that Israel lift the blockade on Gaza and allow an airport and seaport in the Strip.
The sides were also discussing Israel's demand that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other factions in Gaza be disarmed.
The PA's envoy to Cairo, Jamal Shobak said that Israel was offering to partially lift the blockade on Gaza , Israel Radio reported.
Sources in Jerusalem denied media reports that Israel had made an agreement with the United States about lifting the blockade on Gaza.
As yet another cease-fire deadline loomed, residents in the South were warned to stay near a protected space in case rocket firings on Israel start up again, though there are no other restrictions placed on the region for now.
For the last eight days, Egypt has brokered the latest stage of indirect talks. Reports out of Cairo indicated that an understanding was in the works that addressed some Palestinian demands, while delaying discussion on other issues for one month.
Unconfirmed Palestinian sources said that Israel agreed Monday to certain conditions such as opening Gaza border crossings for building materials to be transferred under international supervision, and an extension of the enclave's fishing zone by an additional six miles. Israel has not confirmed the reports.
Should both sides fail to reach an agreement, Israel hopes for a de facto understanding that quiet will be met with quiet.
As a protective measure IDF troops amassed at the Gaza border, in case the process fell apart and quickly descended into violence.
As another precaution, train service between the southern cities of Ashkelon and Sderot was halted on Monday, because the carriages are not protected.
“We are prepared for any scenario,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on a visit to the Ashdod Naval Base on Monday evening.
Accompanying him, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon added that “Operation Protective Edge is not over. As we promised, we will not stop until we bring quiet and security. We are prepared for the results of the discussions in Cairo whether they bring quiet or if someone tries to challenge us with escalation.
The IDF is prepared and ready to respond strongly to any development. Hamas will not drag us into a war of attrition, and if it tries, it will be struck very hard.”
Azzam al-Ahmad, senior leader of President Mahmoud Abbas's mainstream Fatah movement, said in Cairo that there had been "no progress on any point" in talks aimed at resolving the Gaza conflict.
"We hope that every minute of the coming 24 hours will be used to reach an agreement, and if not (successful), the cycle of violence will continue," Ahmad said.
He accused Israel of "maneuvering and stalling" as gaps on key issues continued to dog efforts to achieve a long-term deal between Israel and militant groups in the Gaza Strip, dominated by Hamas Islamists, which would allow reconstruction aid to flow in after five weeks of fighting.
Reuters and staff contributed to this report.