Israel-Gaza Ceasefire Talks Intensify In Cairo

Israel-Gaza Ceasefire Talks Intensify In Cairo

Efforts intensified yesterday to secure a deal for a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of hostages, with talks resuming in Cairo.

Hamas said its delegation was travelling in a “positive spirit” after studying the latest truce proposal.

“We are determined to secure an agreement in a way that fulfils Palestinians’ demands,” it said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said “taking the ceasefire should be a no-brainer” for the militant group.

Hamas’s negotiators have returned to the Egyptian capital to resume long-running talks – brokered by Egypt and Qatar – that would temporarily pause Israel’s offensive in Gaza in return for freeing hostages.

In a statement, Hamas said it wanted to “mature” the agreement on the table, which suggests there are areas where the two sides still disagree.

The main issue appears to involve whether the ceasefire deal would be permanent or temporary.

Hamas is insisting any deal makes a specific commitment towards an end to the war, but Israel is reluctant to agree while the group remains active in Gaza. It’s thought the wording being discussed involves a 40-day pause in fighting while hostages are released, and the release of a number of Palestinian prisoners being held in Israeli jails.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly insisted there will be a fresh military ground operation in the southern Gazan city of Rafah, even if a deal is agreed. Israeli media reported on Saturday that his position remained unchanged despite the latest round of talks.

But the US – Israel’s biggest diplomatic and military ally – is reluctant to back a new offensive that could cause significant civilian casualties, and has insisted on seeing a plan to protect displaced Palestinians first. An estimated 1.4 million people have taken shelter in Rafah after fleeing the fighting in the northern and central areas of the strip.

Addressing the prospects of a truce yesterday, minister Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, said: “An official response to the outline has not yet been received. When accepted – the war management cabinet will meet and discuss it. Until then, I suggest to the ‘political sources’ and all decision-makers to wait for official updates, to act calmly and not to get into hysteria for political reasons.”

The Director of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Williams Burns, has travelled to Cairo to help broker the latest talks, according to two US officials who spoke to the BBC’s US news partner, CBS News.

 

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