Palestinians accept new 72-hour cease-fire offer

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Palestinians accept new 72-hour cease-fire offer
Smoke rises as flames spread across buildings after Israeli strikes in the Shijaiyah neighborhood in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. A high-level attempt by the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state to end deadly Israel-Hamas fighting was off to a rough start Monday: Gaza's Hamas rulers signaled they won't agree to an unconditional cease-fire, Israel's prime minister said he'll do whatever is necessary to keep Israelis safe from Hamas attacks. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Smoke from Israeli strikes rises over Gaza City, in the Gaza Strip, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. A police spokesman said Israeli aircraft have hit dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip, including the home of the late leader of Hamas' military wing, sevenral mosques and a football stadium. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Smoke rises as flames spread across buildings after Israeli strikes in the Shijaiyah neighborhood in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. A high-level attempt by the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state to end deadly Israel-Hamas fighting was off to a rough start Monday: Gaza's Hamas rulers signaled they won't agree to an unconditional cease-fire, Israel's prime minister said he'll do whatever is necessary to keep Israelis safe from Hamas attacks and the overall Palestinian death toll surpassed 560. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Smoke from Israeli strikes rises over Gaza City, in the Gaza Strip, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. A police spokesman said Israeli aircraft have hit dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip, including the home of the late leader of Hamas' military wing, several mosques and a football stadium. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Flames spread across buildings after Israeli strikes in the Shijaiyah neighbourhood in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. A high-level attempt by the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state to end deadly Israel-Hamas fighting was off to a rough start Monday: Gaza's Hamas rulers signaled they won't agree to an unconditional cease-fire, Israel's prime minister said he'll do whatever is necessary to keep Israelis safe from Hamas attacks. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Smoke rises as flames spread across buildings after Israeli strikes in the Shijaiyah neighborhood in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. A high-level attempt by the U.N. chief and the U.S. secretary of state to end deadly Israel-Hamas fighting was off to a rough start Monday: Gaza's Hamas rulers signaled they won't agree to an unconditional cease-fire, Israel's prime minister said he'll do whatever is necessary to keep Israelis safe from Hamas attacks and the overall Palestinian death toll surpassed 560. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
Israeli soldiers attended the funeral of Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli, at the military cemetery in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, Monday, July 21, 2014. Sgt. Carmeli from Texas, was killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. The first major ground battle in two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting exacted a steep price, killing scores of Palestinians and more than a dozen Israeli soldiers and forcing thousands of terrified Palestinian civilians to flee their devastated Shijaiyah neighborhood, which Israel says is a major source for rocket fire against its civilians. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Khaled Sharmi, 67, left, walks inside the Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early on Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry launched a high-level effort to end two weeks of deadly fighting. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinian Khaled Sharmi, 67, walks past the Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque, destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early on Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry launched a high-level effort to end two weeks of deadly fighting. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Palestinian walks inside the Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early on Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry launched a high-level effort to end two weeks of deadly fighting. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Palestinian Khaled Sharmi, 67, inspects the damage in the Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early on Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry launched a high-level effort to end two weeks of deadly fighting. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Palestinian man inspects the Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early on Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry launched a high-level effort to end two weeks of deadly fighting. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
A Palestinian man walks past the Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque, destroyed by an overnight Israeli strike, in Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. Israel bombed five mosques, a sports stadium and the home of the late Hamas military chief across the Gaza Strip early on Tuesday, a Gaza police official said, as the U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon and the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry launched a high-level effort to end two weeks of deadly fighting. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Damage can be seen at Al Aqsa Martyrs mosque in Gaza City after an Israeli strike, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. A police spokesman said Israeli aircraft have hit dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip, including the home of the late leader of Hamas' military wing, sevenral mosques and a football stadium. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
Israeli soldiers carry the coffin of Sgt. Nissim Sean Carmeli, during his funeral at the military cemetery in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, Monday, July 21, 2014. Sgt. Carmeli from Texas, was killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. Thousands of Israelis attended the funeral. On Sunday, the first major ground battle in two weeks of Israel-Hamas fighting exacted a steep price, killing scores of Palestinians and more than a dozen Israeli soldiers and forcing thousands of terrified Palestinian civilians to flee their devastated Shijaiyah neighborhood, which Israel says is a major source for rocket fire against its civilians. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Smoke from an Israeli strike rises over Gaza City, Tuesday, July 22, 2014. A police spokesman said Israeli aircraft have hit dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip, including the home of the late leader of Hamas' military wing, several mosques and a football stadium. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)
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By MOHAMMED DARAGHMEH and KARIN LAUB

CAIRO (AP) -- Palestinian negotiators on Sunday said they had accepted an Egyptian proposal for a new 72-hour truce with Israel, clearing the way for a possible resumption of talks on a long-term cease-fire arrangement in the Gaza Strip.

Israel had walked away from cease-fire talks over the weekend, after militants resumed their rocket fire on southern Israel with the expiration of an earlier three-day truce. Sunday's decision was aimed at bringing the Israelis back to the negotiations. There was no immediate Israeli response.

"We are here to look for an agreement. We cannot have an agreement without talks, so we accepted an Egyptian proposal to have a cease-fire for 72 hours in order to resume the talks," said a Palestinian negotiator.

He, along with other Palestinian negotiators who confirmed the decision, spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the negotiations with the media.

The Egyptian-mediated talks are aimed at brokering a long-term truce arrangement between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip following the heaviest fighting between the bitter enemies since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

In nearly a month of fighting, more than 1,900 Palestinians were killed, including hundreds of civilians, nearly 10,000 were wounded and thousands of homes destroyed. Sixty-seven people were killed on the Israeli side, including three civilians.

The fighting ended in a temporary 72-hour cease-fire last Tuesday, during which Egypt had hoped to mediate a longer-term agreement. But when the three-day window expired, militants resumed their rocket fire, sparking new Israeli reprisals. The violence has continued throughout the weekend, albeit not as strong as at the height of the fighting.

Earlier Sunday, Palestinians threatened to quit the negotiations if Israel did not return, while Israeli leaders said there would be no talks while the rocket fire continues.

"Israel will not negotiate under fire," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, warning his country's military campaign "will take time."

Hamas is seeking an end to an Israeli-Egypt blockade that has decimated the local economy.

Israel says the blockade is needed to prevent arms smuggling, and it says Hamas must disarm as part of any long-term arrangement. Hamas has said handing over its weapons arsenal, which is believed to include several thousand remaining rockets, is inconceivable

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