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No breakthrough in Gaza talks as clock ticks on 72-hour truce


AP8_1_2014_000009BJerusalem:  Israel threatened to wipe out Hamas if current truce in Gaza collapsed as time ran out today on the 72-hour ceasefire with no breakthrough in indirect talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators due to “significant disagreements”.

“Israel cannot afford a war of attrition…If the current ceasefire is heading towards collapse Israel must take the initiative, even if it means a significant escalation. Finish the story in the shortest time possible,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.

The foreign minister also emphasised that Israel should not end the Gaza operation until the bodies of fallen soldiers are returned by Gaza militants.

“If the terrorists from the other sides don’t get it, don’t understand it, they have to understand they will get in return the bodies of Mohammed Deif, [Ismail] Haniyeh and all of the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip…My colleagues and I will not accept any resolution, any framework, without the return of the soldiers’ bodies,” he stressed.

Lieberman also ruled out the possibility of any cooperation with the UN probe into the Gaza war.

International Canadian law expert, William Schabas, known for his criticism of Israel, is to head the United Nations Human Rights Council’s probe into Israel’s actions in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza in the last two months.

Israel’s ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor today said that having Schabas lead UN Gaza probe is akin to ISIS hosting religious tolerance event.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that Schabas’s appointment to head the panel proved that Israel cannot expect justice from this body.

“The report has already been written and the only question is who signs it,” the Foreign Ministry said.

Prosor in an interview with the Army Radio expressed doubt regarding the legitimacy of the panel due to its perceived anti-Israel bias.

Meanwhile, as the 72-hour ceasefire deadline approaches at midnight today, “significant disagreements” are still said to exist between the two sides.

The key disagreements are said to be over the opening of the border crossings between Israel and Gaza, including how the crossings will be supervised and what kind of merchandise will be allowed into Gaza.

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