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‘Hamas, Israel must show flexibility to seal a deal’
Published on: Saturday, May 11, 2024
By: AFP
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‘Hamas, Israel must show flexibility to seal a deal’
UNRWA chief announced the temporary closure of the site after Israelis set fire to its perimeter in just the latest attack.
CAIRO: Egypt has said Hamas and Israel must show “flexibility” if they are to strike a deal for a ceasefire and hostage-prisoner exchange in the seven-month war in the Gaza Strip, according to a foreign ministry statement released Friday.

The readout of a phone call between Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said both diplomats agreed on “the importance of urging the parties to show flexibility and make all the necessary efforts to achieve a ceasefire agreement and put an end to the humanitarian tragedy in Gaza”.

Hamas said early Friday that its negotiators at ceasefire talks this week in Cairo had left the city for Doha, saying Israel had “rejected the proposal submitted by the mediators and raised objections to it”.

“The negotiating delegation left Cairo heading to Doha. In practice, the occupation (Israel) rejected the proposal submitted by the mediators and raised objections to it on several central issues,” the group said in a message to other Palestinian factions, adding it stood by the proposal.

“Accordingly, the ball is now completely in the hands of the occupation.”

The deal, the group said, involved a withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, the return of Palestinians displaced by the war, and the exchange of hostages held by militants for Palestinian prisoners detained in Israel, with the aim of a “permanent ceasefire”.

Netanyahu’s office at the time called the proposal “far from Israel’s essential demands”, but said the government would still send negotiators to Cairo.

Israel has long been resistant to the idea of a permanent ceasefire, insisting it must finish the job of dismantling Hamas.

State-linked Egyptian outlet Al-Qahera News reported Thursday that Israeli negotiators had also left Cairo.

Friday’s foreign ministry statement said the talks were in a “delicate phase”, with Cairo expressing fears that a full-scale Israeli incursion into the crowded Gazan city of Rafah, which sits on Egypt’s border, could threaten the “stability and security” of the region.

US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that during the same conversation, Blinken assured Shoukry “that the United States does not support a major military operation in Rafah” and rejects “any forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza”.

Germany condemned Friday the “escalation of violent protest” against the UN agency for Palestinian refugees in east Jerusalem, which temporarily closed its headquarters there following repeated attacks.

“Israel must ensure the protection of UN facilities and personnel in the occupied Palestinian territories,” the German foreign ministry said on X, formerly Twitter.

“The UN need to be able to serve their important mandate in Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem.”

UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini announced Thursday the temporary closure of the site after Israelis set fire to its perimeter in just the latest attack.

While there were no casualties, he said the blaze caused extensive damage to the outdoor area.

More than 100,000 people have fled Rafah in recent days, the United Nations said Friday, with the southern Gaza city under threat of a full-scale Israeli ground invasion.

The UN children’s agency UNICEF said more than 100,000 had left, with the UN humanitarian agency OCHA putting the figure at more than 110,000.

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