Gaza ceasefire talks extended as Ramadan deadline approaches

Gaza ceasefire talks extended as Ramadan deadline approaches
An Israeli delegation is scheduled to arrive in Cairo on Wednesday to give Tel Aviv's position on what Hamas put forward, an Egyptian source said.
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Israel is waging a brutal war on Gaza that has so far killed more than 30,600 people [Mahmoud Issa/Anadolu/Getty]

Hamas negotiators stayed in Cairo for a third day of ceasefire talks on Tuesday in an attempt to halt the war in the Gaza Strip in time for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, free Israeli hostages, and stave off famine.

A 40-day ceasefire in the war would allow some hostages captured by Palestinian militants in an October attack to go free, while aid to Gaza would be increased, and families would be able to return to abandoned homes. Three-quarters of the strip's population have been internally displaced. Ramadan begins at the start of next week.

"The delegation will remain in Cairo on Tuesday for more talks, they are expected to wrap up this round later today," a Hamas official told Reuters.

Three security sources from host and mediator Egypt told Reuters the warring sides were sticking to demands that had held up an agreement. The Egyptians have remained in contact with the Israelis despite the absence of an Israeli delegation.

Hamas's delegation in Cairo will leave on Tuesday after participating in three days of discussions, a source in the Palestinian group told The New Arab's Arabic edition Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

An Israeli delegation is scheduled to arrive on Wednesday to give Tel Aviv's position on what Hamas put forward, an Egyptian source said.

Egyptian sources familiar with Cairo's efforts on the ceasefire negotiations indicated Egypt has not yet definitively announced the end of the current round of negotiations, saying there is still a chance to reach an agreement before Ramadan begins.

Hamas's delegation is set to return to the Egyptian capital on Thursday, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed's source in the group said.

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The US, both Israel's closest ally and a sponsor of the ceasefire talks, has said an Israeli-approved deal is already on the table and it is up to Hamas to accept it. Hamas disputes this account as an attempt to deflect blame from Israel if the talks collapse.

The United States has also urged Israel to do more to alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza. Israel's war on the strip has killed more than 30,600 people.

"Israel has to maximise every possible means… of getting assistance to people who need it," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.

"That requires more aid getting in. And once that aid is in, it requires making sure it can get to the people who need it. So we will continue to press that every single day, because the situation as it stands is simply unacceptable."

Israel says it is interested only in a temporary truce during which more hostages would be freed. Hamas says it wants any deal to lead to a permanent end to hostilities.

Reuters' Egyptian security sources said US, Egyptian, and Qatari mediators were addressing this difference by offering separate guarantees to Hamas of peace talks to end the war.

The sides also need to resolve a Hamas demand for all Gaza's residents to be allowed to return to abandoned homes during the truce, as well as Israel's demand for the list of hostages, the Egyptian sources said.

(Reuters, The New Arab)