Indirect talks begin in Cairo as Gaza ceasefire holds into second day

BY Justin Scuiletti  August 6, 2014 at 10:46 AM EDT
Palestinians fill containers with water from a broken main in Gaza City's al-Shejaea neighborhood on Aug. 6. Photo by Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

Palestinians fill containers with water from a broken main in Gaza City’s al-Shejaea neighborhood on Aug. 6. Photo by Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images

A 72-hour ceasefire between Israel and Hamas continued into a second day Wednesday as both sides prepared to enter into indirect, formal talks in Cairo, Egypt.

Delegations from both Israel and Hamas will be meeting separately with Egyptian intermediaries over the course of several days, working out deals with one side before bringing them to the other. Hamas won’t be negotiating alone, however — its representatives are part of a larger Palestinian delegation that includes members from the Palestinian Authority and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

The demands from both sides might be hard to reconcile. Palestinian negotiators are reportedly saying there will be no deal without the dismantling of the eight-year blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt. Israeli negotiators say the country will not consider doing so unless Hamas disarms itself; an action the militant group appears unwilling to undertake.

On Tuesday’s PBS NewsHour, Hussein Ibish of the American Task Force on Palestine was hopeful the ceasefire deal would proceed. ”I think both parties reached the point of diminishing returns,” he told co-anchor Judy Woodruff. “And I think for Israel, there’s no reason to restart hostilities and I don’t think Hamas can politically sustain the pushback that would come if they did.”

Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Hussein Ibish of the American Task Force on Palestine discussed the ceasefire negotiations on Tuesday’s PBS NewsHour.