Egypt officials: Israel refusing to budge on Gaza demilitarization
Officials close to ceasefire talks in Egypt said Thursday that Israel is demanding that the Gaza Strip be demilitarized as uncertainty remains over whether a 72-hour truce will be extended.
The officials said that the Israeli delegation has expressed reservations about building a seaport and airport, but showed greater flexibility in discussing lifting the blockade, freeing Palestinian detainees, and extending the designated fishing zone.
Egyptian mediators have tried to dissuade Israel from insisting on demilitarization and have asked for an extension to the 72-hour ceasefire, which ends at 8 a.m. on Friday.
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.
An Israeli official told AFP on condition of anonymity late Wednesday that it is willing to extend the truce.
But Hamas deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzouq, part of the Palestinian delegation holding talks in Cairo, denied overnight there was yet any agreement.
"There is no agreement to extend the ceasefire," he wrote on Twitter.
"Any news about the extension of the truce is unfounded," added Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri.
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