Jerusalem, Aug 6 IANS | 4 months ago

An Israeli delegation started discussions for a ceasefire agreement with their Palestinian counterparts in Cairo Wednesday, a daily reported here Wednesday.

The Israeli delegation will not conduct direct contacts with the Palestinian side, but both will interact with Egyptian mediators to pass messages. US special envoy for the Israeli- Palestinian negotiations, Frank Lowenstein, is expected to join the parties throughout Wednesday, Xinhua reported.

The Israeli delegation consists of attorney Yitzhak Molcho, a top negotiator on behalf of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yoram Cohen, head of the Shin Bet Security Agency, and Amos Gilad, director of policy and political-military affairs at the Defence Ministry, according to Ha'aretz daily.

The Palestinian delegation includes members of Hamas, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The talks would be focused on preventing the collapse of the negotiations and extending the current 72-hour ceasefire that started Tuesday morning, an Egyptian source told the Ha'aretz daily on condition of anonymity, adding that the current priority also includes opening the passages to and easing the siege on the Gaza Strip.

At least 1,865 Palestinians, including 672 women and children, have been killed and 9,536 others wounded in Israel's four-week Operation Protective Edge on Gaza, according to the enclave's health ministry. About 31,000 houses have been damaged and 485,000 Palestinians displaced, the UN said.

The conflict has also claimed the lives of 64 Israeli soldiers and four civilians since Israel's ground operation in Gaza started July 17, as Hamas and other Palestinian militants fired nearly 3,000 rockets into Israel, according to the Israeli Defence Forces.

(Posted on 07-08-2014)

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