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Israel-Gaza cease-fire extended 24 hours as progress made on long-term truce

JTA

August 18, 2014 | 2:08 pm

<em>Israeli soldiers rest in a staging area near the border with the northern Gaza Strip on Aug. 18. Photo by Amir Cohen/Reuters</em>

Israeli soldiers rest in a staging area near the border with the northern Gaza Strip on Aug. 18. Photo by Amir Cohen/Reuters

Israeli and Palestinian officials reportedly have confirmed that the Gaza cease-fire will be extended by 24 hours.

The extension of the current five-day cease-fire, which is set to expire at midnight Monday, will allow the sides to continue to discuss a long-term truce.

The talks reportedly are being extended because of what has been characterized as significant progress in talks on an agreement.

A senior member of the Palestinian delegation told the French news agency AFP that there had been “progress,” with both sides demonstrating “a great degree” of flexibility.

Earlier Monday, following a security meeting at the Ashdod Navy Base, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the cease-fire talks.

“We are ready for any scenario – the Israeli team in Cairo has been instructed to insist on Israel’s security needs and the IDF is prepared for very action strong action if fire is resumed,” Netanyahu said.

He added, “It could yet take time and one must be patient and determined. The combination of persistence and strength will assist us in achieving the goal of this.”

The Qatari-based Al-Jazeera news channel reported late Monday night that the cease-fire agreement currently being considered favorably by both sides includes opening border crossings between Israel and Gaza, with building materials allowed into Gaza under international supervision and expanding the fishing area for Gaza boats. The discussion of building a Gaza seaport and releasing Palestinian prisoners is to be discussed within a month.

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