Egypt, Israel hold talks towards Gaza ‘permanent ceasefire’

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (right) meets with Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi (second from left) and his accompanying delegation at Tahrir Palace in Cairo on May 30, 2021. (Pho-to: AFP)
CAIRO —Egyptian and Israeli officials held talks in both countries Sunday aimed at bolstering the Cairo-brokered ceasefire that ended the latest deadly flare-up of violence between Israel and Hamas.  اضافة اعلان

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel in occupied Jerusalem to discuss “strengthening cooperation” between their countries, Netanyahu’s office said.

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi tasked Kamel and his delegation, who also visited the occupied Palestinian Territories, with hammering out a permanent ceasefire deal, senior Egyptian security officials told AFP.

On the same day, Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi made the first official visit by an Israeli top diplomat to neighboring Egypt in 13 years, for talks with his counterpart Sameh Shoukry.

Ashkenazi tweeted that they would “discuss establishing a permanent ceasefire with Hamas, a mechanism for providing humanitarian aid and the reconstruction of Gaza with a pivotal role played by the international community.” 

The Egyptian foreign ministry tweeted that the ministers’ talks were “part of Egypt’s relentless and continued efforts to revive the peace track and to build on the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.”

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh was also expected in Cairo for talks, senior Egyptian security officials said, without providing further details.

Egypt played a pivotal role in negotiating the May 21 ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that brought an end to 11 days of deadly fighting.

Israeli strikes on Gaza killed 254 Palestinians, including 66 children, health officials said.

Rockets and other fire from Gaza claimed 12 lives in Israel, including one child and an Arab-Israeli teenager, medics said.


Sisi also tasked Kamel with working to help iron out political divisions between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the Egyptian officials said.

Kamel met Sunday with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, according to official Palestinian media.

They discussed the latest developments linked to the truce, as well as the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, and Palestinian national dialogue, the Wafa news agency said.

A bitter divide between Hamas and Fatah has long plagued Palestinian politics, but analysts say the latest escalation has served to unite the geographically fragmented Palestinian community in a way not seen in years.

Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s demand “for the prompt return” of Israelis being held in the Gaza Strip, according to the statement. 

Gaza reconstruction 

Sisi has pledged $500 million to help reconstruction efforts in the densely populated Gaza enclave, which was pummeled by Israeli air strikes. 

Hamas has pledged not to touch “a single cent” of international aid to rebuild Gaza.

Israel, which has enforced a land and maritime blockade on the enclave since 2007, accuses the group of diverting international aid to military ends. 

The statement from Netanyahu’s office said he and Kamel also discussed “mechanisms and processes to prevent the strengthening of Hamas and its use of the resources that will be directed to the civilian population in the future.”

The latest violent flare-up was sparked by increased tensions in occupied Jerusalem, including over Israeli occupation forces cracking down on Palestinians inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.

Shoukry emphasised the “need to consider the particular sensitivity (of) east Jerusalem, the Al-Aqsa Mosque and all Christian and Muslim holy sites,” the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.

The UN Human Rights Council decided Thursday to create an open-ended international investigation into violations surrounding the latest Gaza violence.

It said it would also look at the “underlying root causes of recurrent tensions and instability, including systematic discrimination” in the occupied Palestinian Territories and inside Israel.

UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet voiced particular concern about the “high level of civilian fatalities and injuries” from the bombing of Gaza and warned the Israeli strikes on the enclave “may constitute war crimes”.

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