Israel risks ceasefire deal if envoy not sent, say Palestinians

No preparations in train for negotiations, Israeli PM reported to have told advisers

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu: reported to have told his aides that Israel’s call for the demilitarisation of Gaza “doesn’t appear to be attainable in either the short term or the long term”. Photograph: Reuters/Baz Ratner

Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu: reported to have told his aides that Israel’s call for the demilitarisation of Gaza “doesn’t appear to be attainable in either the short term or the long term”. Photograph: Reuters/Baz Ratner

Wed, Sep 3, 2014, 01:00

Israel risks abrogating the Gaza ceasefire agreement if the government does not send an envoy to Cairo for negotiations slated to begin this month, a member of the Palestinian negotiating team to be sent to Cairo, Qais Abdel Karim said yesterday.

He was commenting on a report carried by Israel’s Channel 10 news that leaked the contents of private discussions between prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his closest advisers.

According to Channel 10, Mr Netanyahu said that no preparations were in train for the scheduled Cairo talks meant to deal with reconstruction of Gaza’s airport, building a port for Gaza, Palestinian prisoner releases and the repatriation of the bodies of two Israeli soldiers.

Mr Netanyahu is said to have told his aides that Israel’s call for the demilitarisation of Gaza “doesn’t appear to be attainable in either the short term or the long term.”

Consequently, he took the view that there can be no negotiations in Hamas’s demand for a seaport and airport.

Ceasefire ‘null and void’

Abdel Karim, of the Popular Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, told the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency that an Israeli boycott of the talks would “render the ceasefire null and void.”

He said members of the multi-party Palestinian delegation were awaiting an invitation to attend Egyptian- mediated talks from Cairo.

While Mr Netanyahu said on Israeli television last weekend that Israel’s Gaza operation may have paved the way for fresh negotiations on a settlement with the Palestinian Authority, Channel 10 said he told his associates “any Israeli withdrawal [from the West Bank] would be followed by hostile elements taking over the conceded territory”.