EGYPTIAN officials said yesterday that Israel was demanding that the Gaza Strip be ‘demilitarised’, and Hamas be disarmed, creating uncertainty over whether the 72-hour truce would be extended.
Officials said the Israeli delegation expressed reservations about building a seaport and airport in Gaza, but showed greater flexibility in discussing lifting the blockade, freeing Palestinian detainees, and extending the designated fishing zone.
Egyptian mediators have asked for an extension to the ceasefire.
Acting US special envoy for Palestinian-Israeli negotiations Frank Lowenstein has arrived in Cairo where he is scheduled to meet with the Egyptian foreign minister and other officials to discuss extending Gaza’s ceasefire.
The ceasefire was scheduled to end at 8am today.
Lowenstein said Egypt was working hard to try to prolong the ceasefire to give negotiators enough time to reach an agreement on a long-term truce ending an eight-year, crippling siege on Gaza and assure that hostilities won’t break out again.
The Palestinian delegation has demanded an end to the siege of Gaza, the construction of a seaport and airport, the release of detainees who were rearrested, and the creation of a safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
• UK ministers, in crisis after the resignation of Foreign Office Minister Warsi, are discussing whether to suspend arms export licences to Israel if the truce in Gaza ends.
Deputy PM Nick Clegg says he wants licences stopped if violence returns.
A Downing Street spokesman said discussions on the issue within government were still ongoing. Clegg said he hoped the coalition would agree a ‘tougher approach’ and make an announcement shortly.
‘I think it’s crystal clear that it would be unacceptable to the British people and wholly wrong for us to do anything other than to immediately suspend any existing licences if that ceasefire were to come to an end and violence were to break out again,’ said Clegg.
‘If this ceasefire, this truce, ends and violence breaks out again, then clearly we should be suspending those licences,’ he added.