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Palestinians threaten to leave Cairo truce talks on Sunday

Palestinian negotiators warned they would leave Cairo if an Israeli delegation did not show up for truce negotiations on Sunday (Aug 10), with one official setting a 1300 GMT deadline.

CAIRO: Palestinian negotiators warned they would leave Cairo if an Israeli delegation did not show up for truce negotiations on Sunday (Aug 10), with one official setting a 1300 GMT deadline.

The talks broke down on Friday (Aug 8) after the Hamas rulers of Gaza accused Israel of stalling and refused to extend a 72-hour ceasefire, setting off renewed hostilities that killed eight Palestinians on Saturday (Aug 9).

The Palestinian negotiators had earlier said an Israeli delegation was expected in Cairo on Sunday, based on an invitation by Egyptian mediators. An Israeli official told AFP that talks could not take place until Palestinian rocket fire came to a halt. The Palestinian delegation warned they would leave the Egyptian capital if no delegation showed up.

"We have a meeting tomorrow with Egyptian (mediators). If we confirm that the Israeli delegation is placing conditions for its return, we will not accept any conditions," lead negotiator Azzam al-Ahmed told AFP.

Another senior member of the delegation said they had given the Israeli delegation until 1300 GMT on Sunday. The delegation, composed of Hamas, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah and smaller factions, would then leave to consult with their leaderships, Ahmed said.

A Hamas leader, Mussa Abu Marzuq, warned that the next 24 hours would be crucial.

Israel "is stalling and the next 24 hours will decide the fate of the negotiations", he said.

Egypt, which acts as a go between in the indirect negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, has pressured both sides to end the fighting.

Almost 2,000 Palestinians were killed in four weeks of fighting that devastated swathes of Gaza, and 67 people were killed on the Israeli side, almost all of them soldiers.

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