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Egypt presents proposal to end war in Gaza



CAIRO (AP) - Egypt presented a proposed cease-fire to Israel and Hamas aimed at ending the monthlong war, Palestinian officials said early Wednesday after negotiators huddled for a second day of Egyptian-mediated talks meant to resolve the crisis and bring relief to the embattled Gaza Strip.

Palestinian officials told The Associated Press early Wednesday morning that Egypt's proposal calls for easing parts of the Israeli blockade of Gaza, bringing some relief to the territory. But it leaves the key areas of disagreement, including the Islamic militant group Hamas' demand for a full lifting of the blockade and Israeli calls for Hamas to disarm, to later negotiations.

If the sides accept the proposal it would have a significant impact on Palestinians in Gaza as it would improve the movement of individuals and merchandise to the West Bank, the officials said. Gaza exports and other businesses have been hit hard by restrictions imposed on the territory by Israel and Egypt after Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007.

One of the Palestinian officials who spoke to AP said that according to the Egyptian proposal the blockade would be gradually eased.

He said it would stipulate that Israel would end airstrikes on militants, and a 500-meter (547-yard) buffer zone next to the Gaza and Israel frontier would be reduced over time, he said.

The Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams retired after 10 hours of discussions and will resume the talks later Wednesday, about 12 hours before the current cease-fire is set to expire at midnight, the officials said.

It was not immediately clear if either side would accept the deal.

The Palestinian officials spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the negotiations with the media.

The negotiations took place after a three-day truce brokered by Egypt took effect Monday. A similar truce collapsed last Friday after Gaza militants quickly resumed rocket fire with its expiration.

The monthlong Gaza war has killed more than 1,900 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, Palestinian and U.N. officials say. In Israel, 67 people have been killed, all but three of them soldiers.

Hamas is demanding an end to an Israel-Egyptian blockade that has ravaged Gaza's economy. Israel says the blockade is needed to keep Hamas, which fired thousands of rockets into Israel during the war, from smuggling weapons. Israel is seeking guarantees that it disarm.

With the truce set to expire, Egypt pressed the sides hard to reach a deal.

"The talks are difficult but serious," Moussa Abu Marzouk, head of the Hamas delegation, wrote on his Facebook page. "The delegation needs to achieve the hopes of the people."

Hamas, shunned by the international community as a terrorist organization, seized control of Gaza from internationally backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in 2007.

Any deal will almost certainly include an increased role by Abbas. The Palestinian leader recently formed a unity government backed by Hamas, ostensibly putting him in charge of Gaza. But in reality, Hamas, with its thousands of fighters and arsenal of rockets, remains the real power.

Another member of the Palestinian delegation reported some progress, saying Israel had offered a number of gestures aimed at improving life for Gaza's 1.8 million residents. They included an increase in the number of trucks permitted to deliver goods into the territory from Israel each day, and the transfer of funds by Abbas' Palestinian Authority to Hamas-affiliated government employees in Gaza. The cash-strapped Hamas has been unable to pay the salaries of its employees for months.

Also included in the purported Israeli package, the official said, was an eventual quadrupling - to 12 miles (19 kilometers) - of the sea area in which Gaza fishing vessels are permitted to operate.

But the official said Israel was linking progress on the Palestinians' biggest demands - to reopen the territory's sea and airport - to Hamas disarming. The group has rejected this demand. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing ongoing negotiations. Palestinian officials said they were open to extending the talks if progress was being made.

Israeli officials declined comment on the negotiations. But in a possible sign of progress, the Ynet website said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been speaking to senior Cabinet ministers about an emerging agreement.

It said the deal would include a softening of the blockade to allow the entry of construction materials for rebuilding Gaza under strict international supervision. Israel has limited the flow of goods like concrete and metal, saying Hamas would use them for military use.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said he did not know if there would be a deal by Wednesday night's deadline, and warned that fighting could resume.

"I don't know if we should extend negotiations. It could be that fire erupts again," he said. "We must be on alert and ready all the time."

The U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva this week formed a commission to look into possible war crimes violations during the Gaza fighting.

Israel has not said whether it will cooperate with the investigation. But the Foreign Ministry said Tuesday that it believes the commission, and its chief investigator, Canadian law professor William Schabas, are biased against Israel.

In a television interview, Schabas said he wouldn't let his history of criticizing Israeli leaders affect his ability to carry out the investigation.

"What someone who sits in a commission or who is a judge has to be able to do is put these things behind them and start fresh and this is what I intend to do," he told Israel's Channel 2 TV.

He would not say whether he would investigate Hamas' actions.

Israel's Foreign Ministry called the commission a "kangaroo court" whose verdict is "known ahead of time."

Meanwhile, the world's largest bloc of Islamic nations called for an international donors conference for Gaza. The 56-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation also expressed its disappointment at the failure of the U.N. Security Council "to assume its responsibilities" of maintaining peace and security.

Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal said his country would work with other donors to finance $500 million for the reconstruction of houses and facilities in Gaza. He did not elaborate. Officials have said at least $6 billion is needed.

___

Associated Press writers Ian Deitch in Jerusalem and Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed to this report.

Related:
Timeline of the War in Gaza
Political Conflict of 2014
United Nations
Civilian Casualties in Gaza
Hamas
Saudi Arabia's Economy

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sugarcreekchile August 13 2014 at 4:27 AM

The UN Human Rights Commission is a joke. The only war crimes were committed by Hamas for using noncombatants as human shields and telling them to stay in areas they know will be fired upon when the Israelis warn them to leave.

How many innocent Israelis would Hamas' rockets have killed if Israel didn't have it's missle defense system in place. Hamas started the war as a public relations campaign to try to get international support to get Israel to make major concessions on the blockade. Hamas is well aware that few of their missles get through but keep firing from populated areas to try to make Israel the villain instead of the victim. The idiots at the UN may buy the scheme but intelligent people see Hamas' for the war criminals they are.

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5 replies
silverbowl10 August 13 2014 at 4:13 AM

I don't beleive the Palestiniens will take it becuse they love killing people too much.

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9 replies
happely24u August 13 2014 at 6:00 AM

War crimes? OK if Canada started a rocket atack on the US would you say and do nothing

Flag Reply +36 rate up
6 replies
jewel August 13 2014 at 4:46 AM

obama and john should have never been in office--- come on obama voters if you can't see whats going on-- well then duaaaaaaaa...

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3 replies
onionson August 13 2014 at 5:43 AM

Egypt's proposal is way short of what is needed for peace. They need to stipulate the eradication of Hamas and the repatriation of all Palestinians to whatever Arab lands they came from or whoever will have them. Then you will have peace in Palestine.

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7 replies
Leo August 13 2014 at 7:51 AM

Israel has a lot to lose if the deal does not include the disarming of Hamas and Hamas has a lot to gain by any agreement. As the head of Hamas delegation said, "the talks are difficult but serious", yes they are serious but Hamas will not accept anything but the worst for Israel. They don't care about the lives of neither people !

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2 replies
SATTARAWOLF Leo August 13 2014 at 10:33 AM

hamas has to go away -- period as does isis and the other radical groups trying to destroy peace in favor of a violent antiquated idealism of what a God would demand of its people .any God that would demand that level of misery in order to be worshipped isnt worthy of worship . lets face it the few are using the most radical parts of their belief to make puppets out of their people for their own benefit . how many leaders do you see strapping on a bomb vest and blowing themselves up? wake up islam see the light as it shines on your families not as it blows up in your face .

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1 reply
Stanley SATTARAWOLF August 13 2014 at 11:02 AM

The tactics being used by radical Islamists today are the same used by Mohammed to proliferate his form of religion. Convert or die by the sword!

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davedoe12 Leo August 13 2014 at 6:58 PM

Israel WILL NOT go for that BS. Hamas can NOT be trusted. How on earth can you trust a terrorist group. The answer is, YOU CAN NOT!!!!!!!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Randy August 13 2014 at 8:29 AM

Yeah... that makes sense... have Israel give away their ability to stop some of the missiles and rockets being supplied to Hamas in exchange for ?????? There is a much quicker, smarter and longer lasting solution - turn Israel loose to destroy the infestation on their borders.

Flag Reply +16 rate up
3 replies
jmccand779 August 13 2014 at 7:40 AM

There was a peaceful solution to this conflict!

It was called the Oslo Peace Accords, signed by Israel's PM Rabin and Yassar Arrfat. It called for a halt to all new construction in the settlements, return of occupied lands, Palestinian self-rule and a road to A Free Palestinian State.

PM Rabin was murdered by an Israeli extremist for signing the agreement. Netanyahu then became PM and before the ink had time to dry and PM Rabin laid to rest, Netanyahu and his party reneged and threw the Oslo Accords in the trash.

That is the truth and the reasons Palestinians don’t trust Netanyahu. In the 20 some years Netanyahu party has been in power, NOT ONCE have they ever come close to serious negations or honor the Peace Agreement PM Rabin gave his life for.

Netanyahu, on numerous occasions has stated he would NEVER agree to Statehood of Palestine. It is Netanyahu and Sharon who have stood in the way of Peace for 20 years, and I doubt if Israel will ever agree to a two state solution, for a FREE self-ruled Palestinian State.

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7 replies
bobtruth August 13 2014 at 11:37 AM

Destroy Hamas and those that support them. Get it done, Israel, get it done.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
rgburrill August 13 2014 at 11:34 AM

What a stupid adz idea. It doesn't end the conflict - just postpones it again. The only way to end the conflict is to end Hamas. Plain and simple. And Abbas knows that too.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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