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Published: Wednesday August 20, 2014 MYT 6:20:02 PM
Updated: Wednesday August 20, 2014 MYT 6:21:44 PM

France urges Israel, Palestinians to talk after ceasefire ends

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Francois Hollande called on Israel and the Palestinians to resume truce talks after a Gaza ceasefire collapsed and said the demilitarisation of the enclave and a lifting of a blockade should be part of a deal.

Israeli air strikes killed 11 Palestinians in Gaza, including the wife and infant son of Hamas's military leader, Mohammed Deif, in what the group said was an attempt to assassinate him after the failure of Egyptian-brokered negotiations.

"We are at a critical point. France supports the Egyptian mediation," Hollande told Le Monde in an interview. "Gaza can no longer remain like it is. The objective must be a demilitarisation and a lifting of the blockade."

Accusing Hamas of breaking the truce with rocket fire eight hours before it was to have expired, Israel recalled its negotiators from truce talks in Cairo on Tuesday. Palestinian negotiators walked out of the talks later, blaming Israel for their failure.

"Demilitarisation can only be done under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority. France with Europe can be useful in lifting the blockade at the Rafah crossing. Gaza must neither be an open prison or a military base," Hollande said.

Hollande said if negotiations failed then the international community would have to take the lead to find a solution.

"We must do everything to ensure negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority resume to find a solution to the conflict. We know the parameters, the only solution is a two states living side by side," he said.

(Reporting By John Irish; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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