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article imagePalestinian leader Abbas offers to return to Egypt for Gaza talks

By Nathan Salant     Aug 23, 2014 in World
Cairo - Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agreed Saturday to return to Cairo to resume ceasefire talks with Israel and Hamas but neither warring party has committed to participate.
Abbas sent word to Egyptian President leader Abdel Fattah el-Sisi that the Palestinian Authority wanted talks to resume on a long-term ceasefire in Gaza to enable reconstruction efforts to begin as soon as possible.
Officials with Hamas and Israel have so far declined to comment on the report, which came in response to a request from Egypt to return to negotiations, according to the Reuters news service.
Thousands of Gaza Strip homes and businesses have been destroyed in the past six weeks as Israel began bombing the territory in response to rocket attacks launched by Hamas militants against the Jewish state.
"My main goal is for the truce talks to resume in Egypt as soon as possible to avoid more casualties," Abbas told a news conference in Cairo, Reuters said.
Hamas has so far refused to consider a long-term ceasefire unless Israel and Egypt reopen border crossings and allow the reconstruction of Gaza's short-lived international airport and building of a seaport.
But Israel insists that Hamas, which wrested control of Gaza from the Palestinian Authority in 2006, must first agree to stop missile attacks and disarm.
Nine Gaza residents were killed Saturday by Israeli airstrikes, Reuters said, as jets bombed 20 targets that Israel's air force said included rocket launchers and weapons caches.
The Israeli military said more than 40 rockets were launched from Gaza but that no casualties were reported.
Egyptian-mediated peace talks collapsed last week after Hamas broke a weeklong truce by firing missiles and Israel responded with airstrikes.
Egypt's Foreign Ministry issued a short statement Saturday calling on Hamas and Israel to resume talks.
Egyptian officials said they expected responses from both sides by Monday, Reuters said.
More than 2,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since July 8, when the Israeli offensive began, Reuters said.
More than 60 Israelis, primarily soldiers, also have been killed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to escalate the war on Saturday after a young Israeli boy was killed in a mortar attack from Gaza, saying Hamas would "pay a heavy price" for its actions, Reuters said.
The warning from Netanyahu came one day after an Israeli military spokesman warned Palestinians leaving near weapons stockpiles in Gaza to leave their homes in anticipation of increased attacks.
The United Nations says the fighting has displaced more than 400,000 Gaza residents.
Also on Saturday, Hamas officials said they had approved an effort by Abbas to have the Palestinian Authority join the International Criminal Court in The Hague, opening the possibility of both sides being accused of war crimes.
Sisi was elected Egypt's president earlier this year after he lead the military coup that ousted the first elected president in the country's history, Mohammed Morsi, in 2013.
More about Egypt, Israel, Palestinian, Abbas, Netanyahu
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