Israel on Sunday said it will not “negotiate under fire” and the military campaign in Gaza will continue, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, amid threats from Palestinian negotiators to abandon efforts to broker the ceasefire talks in Cairo if no Israeli delegation showed up.
“At no stage did we declare its conclusion. The operation will continue until its goal is met – the restoration of a quiet for a long period. I said at the outset that the operation would take time and patience”, Netanyahu said at the beginning of the weekly cabinet in Tel Aviv.
“Israel will not negotiate under fire and Israel will continue to take all action in order to change the current reality and bring quiet to all of its citizens. We will stand together, united and determined, until we complete the work,” Netanyahu added.
Meanwhile, a senior Palestinian negotiator, Azzam al-Ahmed threatened to quit ceasefire talks if Israelis didn’t return to the table by 3 pm local time without pre-conditions. “We have a meeting tomorrow (Sunday) with Egyptian (mediators). If we confirm that the Israeli delegation is placing conditions for its return, we will not accept any conditions,” al-Ahmed said.
Israeli negotiators have already left Egypt and said they would not return to the indirect negotiations until rocket fire from Gaza stops. Their decision to leave took place after efforts to extend a three day ceasefire already in place failed to yield results, despite Israeli willingness to extend the lull.
Izzat al-Rishq, a member of the Palestinian negotiation team, said that the chances to reach an agreement are low and that the delegation may leave Cairo at any minute. “The possibility of negotiations to succeed is weak. It is possible that the Palestinian delegation will leave to consult its leaders any minute,” he said.
Meanwhile, Israel continued its bombardment of the Gaza Strip early today in the southern cities of Rafah and Khan Younis, killing three Palestinians including a 13-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy.
Over a month of bloody fighting has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and 67 in Israel, most of them soldiers. About 10,000 people have been injured in the conflict. The UK, France and Germany have called for a new truce to be agreed, after last week’s ceasefire was not renewed.
Palestinians have asked for Israel to lift its blockade on Gaza and to re-open the air and seaports. The UK, France and Germany have called for a new truce to be agreed, after last week’s ceasefire was not renewed.