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Gaza peace talks fail to make progress but ceasefire holds

TALKS to end a month-long war between Israel and Islamist militants in Gaza have made no progress so far, an Israeli official has said, as a 72-hour ceasefire in the shattered Palestinian enclave held for a second day.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators were expected to reconvene in Cairo, where Hamas and its allies are seeking an end to an Israeli and Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip.

"The gaps between the sides are big and there is no progress in the negotiations," said an Israeli official who declined to be named.

A Palestinian official with knowledge of the Cairo talks said: "So far we can't say a breakthrough has been achieved. Twenty-four hours and we shall see whether we have an agreement."

Hamas also wants the opening of a Mediterranean seaport for impoverished Gaza, a project Israel says should be dealt with only in any future talks on a permanent peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Israel has resisted lifting the economically stifling blockade on Gaza and suspects Hamas will restock with weapons from abroad if access to the coastal ­territory is eased.

Neighbouring Egypt also sees Hamas as a security threat.

Israel pulled ground forces out of Gaza last week after it said the army had completed its main mission of destroying more than 30 tunnels dug by militants for cross-border attacks.

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