Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat—There is only a slight chance that indirect, Cairo-brokered talks between the Palestinians and the Israelis will lead to an overreaching permanent settlement over the Gaza Strip, a Palestinian delegation member told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Bassam Al-Salhi, a member of the Palestinian delegation in Cairo said: “It is true that things, in their context, are heading towards an agreement but that does not address more than 50 percent [of issues].”
The two delegations “face complex details; things are not easy,” the Palestinian delegation member added. Salhi is a member of the Executive Committee of the Ramallah-based Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
On Monday Palestinian and Israeli negotiators headed to Cairo to discuss an end to weeks of violence in Gaza which killed almost 2,000 Palestinians and 67 Israelis. The Egypt-brokered talks have failed to produce a permanent ceasefire deal but led to a five-day truce which ends on Sunday.
The Palestinian side is demanding an immediate lifting of a seven-year blockade imposed on Gaza by Israel and Egypt.
Salhi said the Palestinian delegation is opposed to a phased lifting of the blockade.
“We demand that the blockade be lifted entirely, which means freedom of movement for individuals and goods to and from the Gaza Strip and between Gaza and the West Bank without any restrictions on an on-going basis,” he said.
Also on the Palestinian list of demands is the opening of a seaport off the shores of Gaza and the reopening of the enclave’s airport, two demands Tel Aviv agreed to discuss but only in future talks.
“We are not negotiating the establishment of a seaport and an airport. We asked [the Israeli side] to commit to the signed agreements. We demand the airport be re-opened and a seaport established immediately,” Salhi told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Asked whether the issue of the airport and the seaport can be put off for later discussions, the Palestinian official said: “That depends on the time-frame. If we are talking about a few weeks only, we do not mind, but not more than that.”
The Palestinian delegation is expected to return to Cairo on Sunday to resume talks with the Israelis.