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Gaza peace talks set to resume as truce holds

By Colin Francis

The temporary Israel-Hamas truce is holding as marathon, indirect negotiations on a lasting ceasefire and a long-term solution for the battered Gaza Strip resume in Cairo.

Israel Radio said the Israeli delegation would return to the Egyptian capital after a short visit home. The Israeli military said no incidents – neither Hamas rocket fire at Israel nor Israeli strikes in Gaza – have been registered.

A senior Israeli official said the "gaps between the sides were big", while a Palestinian delegation member said Egyptian mediators told them they expected "an extremely long negotiating session".

A group of human rights organisations says it is organising a flotilla of vessels that will attempt to breach Israel's blockade of Gaza later this year.

The Freedom Flotilla Coalition said it plans to sail to Gaza "during 2014". It did not specify how many vessels would participate, but said the flotilla was "a reflection of the growing worldwide solidarity with the Palestinian people; from the US to Malaysia, from Scandinavia to South Africa".

The group said the boats would also be carrying "Palestinian commercial products purchased by buyers worldwide to complete the work of Gaza's Ark", a cargo boat built by the FFC and Palestinians that the group said was bombed on July 11.

It said it will also organise demonstrations in ports worldwide in the coming months.

"Along with other projects, the initiative will support the right of Palestinians to operate international marine lines in and out of the port of Gaza," the group said.

The group organised two previous flotillas, in 2010 and in 2011. During the first, Israeli forces stormed the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara, killing nine people on board. The incident led to a breakdown in Turkish-Israeli relations.

Israel says it imposed the blockade in 2007 to prevent Palestinian militants bringing weapons into Gaza.

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