Israel, Egypt holds talks on bolstering fragile Hamas truce, rebuilding Gaza
Islam News – Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry received his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, in Cairo. The meeting is part of an effort to build on an Israel-Hamas cease-fire reached May 21 and to revive Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, which have been dormant for more than a decade, Shukry’s office said. Egypt has not said how it would be able to restart talks.
The hours-long visit was the first public one by an Israeli foreign minister to Egypt since 2008, according to the Israeli Embassy in Cairo.
Spokesman Ahmed Hafez said Shukry called for establishing an atmosphere to relaunch “serious and constructive” negotiations between the two sides. He also urged both sides to refrain from “any measures” that could hamper efforts to revive peace talks.
They also discussed the release of Israeli soldiers and citizens being held by Hamas, Israel’s top diplomat said.
“We all need to act to prevent strengthening extremist elements that threaten regional stability, and to ensure the return home of the missing persons and prisoners held by Hamas,” Ashkenazi said.
He also criticized the Palestinian Authority over its moves at the International Criminal Court and the U.N. Human Rights Council, saying such activity damages the chances of future cooperation.
Ashkenazi alleged that Palestinian war crimes complaints against Israel —filed over its military conduct since a 2014 war with Hamas and ongoing settlement construction — are an obstacle to political dialogue. The ICC is investigating both Israel and Hamas for possible war crimes. Hamas is under investigation for random rocket fire toward Israeli communities.
Despite cease-fire talks, Hamas and the smaller militant group Islamic Jihad have staged weapons parades in a show of force. On Sunday, thousands attended a Hamas rally in the northern Gaza town of Beit Lahiya, where masked militants displayed rockets, launchers and drones.
Hamas is holding the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in a 2014 war. It also is holding two Israeli civilians who were captured after entering Gaza.
As part of the cease-fire efforts, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted Abbas Kamel, Egypt’s intelligence chief, in Jerusalem. Netanyahu said he had raised the issue of returning the remains of soldiers and the two civilians as well as Israeli demands to prevent Hamas from gaining strength or diverting resources meant for the civilian population.
An Egyptian official said Kamel would also meet with Palestinian officials in the West Bank before heading to Gaza for talks with Hamas leaders. The intelligence agency, which is Egypt’s equivalent of the CIA, usually handles Egypt’s ties with Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in Gaza.
Source: France 24