CAIRO — Palestinian officials voiced cautious optimism Thursday, hinting at progress in Egyptian-mediated negotiations with Israel to bring an end to the fighting in Gaza and secure new arrangements for the war-battered territory.
But with the sides’ demands still seemingly irreconcilable, that optimism may be premature and a deal not so close in the making.
Israel and Hamas are observing a five-day cease-fire which began at midnight Wednesday, in an attempt to allow talks between the sides in Cairo to continue. The negotiations are meant to secure a substantive end to the monthlong war and draw up a roadmap for the coastal territory, which has been hard-hit in the fighting.
Israeli officials have largely kept quiet about the negotiations. But militant groups represented in Cairo said progress was being made toward a deal — a stark turnaround from earlier posturing.
“The war is now behind us, and the chances for an agreement on a lasting cease-fire are encouraging,” Ziad al-Nakhaleh, deputy leader of the Islamic Jihad militant group, told The Associated Press. “Though we didn’t get all that we wanted, there was progress here and there.”