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Negotiators dig in as cease-fire end looms

Monday, August 18, 2014 - Updated: 8:41 AM

CAIRO (AP) -- Israeli and Palestinian negotiators in Egypt-mediated Gaza truce talks hardened their positions Monday ahead of the expiration of a five-day cease-fire, though both sides appeared reluctant to return to the deadly all-out fighting that has destroyed large parts of the densely-populated coastal strip.

The month-long Israel-Hamas war has killed more than 1,900 Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, according to Palestinian and U.N. officials. Israel has lost 67 people, all but three of them soldiers.

Since last week, indirect talks have been taking place in Cairo through Egyptian mediators in an effort to broker a substantive end to the war and draw up a roadmap for Gaza.

On Sunday, Palestinian and Israeli delegations resumed the talks following weekend consultations across the Middle East but gaps between the two sides remain wide, with each staking out maximalist positions.

The Gaza blockade, imposed by Israel and Egypt since the Hamas militants took control of the strip in 2007, remains the main stumbling block. It has greatly limited the movement of Palestinians in and out of the territory of 1.8 million people, restricted the flow of goods into Gaza and blocked virtually all exports.

     

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