Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahhar said Tuesday that the Palestinian delegation decided to go ahead with indirect ceasefire talks in Cairo despite deadly violence overnight.
“After consultations between the delegation and Hamas officials both in Gaza and abroad, a decision was taken to go ahead with Cairo talks,” Zahhar told Reuters.
His remarks followed reports that the Palestinian delegation in Cairo was considering withdrawing from the talks after Israeli forces killed two Palestinians suspected of kidnapping three Israeli youths in June.
Senior Hamas negotiator Izzat al-Rishaq told AFP the Palestinian team had been headed to the headquarters of the Egyptian intelligence service which mediates the talks when they learned of the Hebron incident and had turned back in protest.
Al-Rishaq said the killings overnight were a deliberate attempt to avoid further ceasefire negotiations.
Senior Hamas official Salah Bardawil blamed security coordination between Israel and the PA for the killings, saying that “this assassination couldn’t have succeeded without security coordination in the West Bank.”
For his part, Islamic Jihad leader Khalid al-Batsh said “the Israeli occupation deliberately chose to carry out the assassination in Hebron today in an attempt to foil the indirect Egypt-brokered ceasefire talks sponsored scheduled to be resumed today.”
The Palestinian delegation, he said, is convinced that the “ugly” operation Israeli forces carried out in Hebron at dawn came to “cover up for what has been committed since the three Israeli teens disappeared in Hebron, and to thwart indirect ceasefire talks which seek to end the suffering of the Palestinian people.”
Tuesday’s meeting is expected to set a timetable for further negotiations after the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday in the first week of October, a Palestinian official said.
The Israeli delegation arrived earlier on Tuesday, said an official at Cairo airport.
Amer Abu Aisha and Marwan Qawame were killed overnight following a gunfight after Israeli forces surrounded a property they were hiding in.
(Ma’an – www.maannews.net)