Negotiations In Tatters As Gaza Clashes Continue

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Cross-border attacks continued over the weekend between Israel and Gaza as talks aimed to end the fighting appeared to stall in Cairo.


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer. The cease-fire between Israel and Hamas ended on Friday and since then Hamas has continued to fire rockets from Gaza. And the Israeli military has responded with air strikes. Health officials in Gaza say 14 Palestinians have been killed. Despite the renewed fighting, there was hope that talks aimed at creating a permanent truce would continue. Those negotiations now appear to be in jeopardy. In a minute, we'll here just how hard this negotiation can be when we speak to former Senator George Mitchell. But first, NPR's Jackie Northam reports from Jerusalem.

JACKIE NORTHAM, BYLINE: The renewed fighting between Hamas and Israel, while still deadly, has been more restrained than during the month-long war. The cross-border attacks are being seen as a means of applying pressure at the bargaining table during the complicated peace talks in Cairo. But after three days, the fighting has not stopped and the negotiations are in tatters. The Israeli delegation left Cairo. And today, Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated that Israel will not negotiate under fire. He said Israel never declared its military operations were over and threatened to return to a full-on war. A Palestinian delegation remained over the weekend and continued working with Egyptian mediators, but now it too says it will leave Cairo if the Israelis don't return to the table. The two sides are far apart. Hamas wants the full lifting of a seven-year blockade of Gaza, something Israel has refused. Israel wants Hamas-controlled Gaza demilitarized, which the militant group says is inconceivable. Avi Issacharoff, an Arab affairs specialist with the popular Israeli online Walla! news site, says this stand-off cannot last for long.

AVI ISSACHAROFF: Probably in the next couple of days or weeks, we will be witnessing either a large scale escalation or on the other hand some kind of an agreement.

NORTHAM: Issacharoff says many war-weary Palestinians and Israelis would find it hard to accept returning to a full-scale battle between Hamas and Israel. Jackie Northam, NPR News, Jerusalem.

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