Israel-Hamas truce sets stage for talks on Gaza
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - The Israelis and Palestinians each have a delegation in place in Cairo, for talks aimed at a long-term truce in Gaza.
Both sides halted cross-border attacks as a three-day cease-fire took effect this morning. The shelling stopped, and in Gaza City -- where streets had been deserted during the war -- traffic picked up and shops started opening. Israel says it has withdrawn the last of its ground forces from Gaza.
In the coming days, Egyptian mediators plan to shuttle between the Israeli and Palestinian delegations.
As details of the Palestinian demands emerge, there are signs that Hamas is willing to give Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas a role in Gaza as part of rebuilding efforts. Hamas seized control of Gaza from Abbas' Palestinian Authority in 2007, prompting the Egyptian and Israeli blockade of the territory.
The return of Abbas would presumably be aimed at reassuring Israel and Egypt, and allowing an easing of the closure.
A senior Israeli official says his government is willing to discuss an easing of Gaza border restrictions, but that it needs guarantees that Hamas will not be able to re-arm.
The situation on the ground in Gaza remains volatile, and any cease-fire violation could quickly derail the Cairo talks. There are wide gaps between the Israeli and Palestinian positions.