Egypt sends delegation to Israel in hopes of brokering ceasefire

Egypt Sends Delegation To Israel In Hopes Of Brokering Ceasefire
It warned that a possible Israeli offensive focused on Rafah on the border with Egypt could have catastrophic consequences for regional stability. Photo: PA Images
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Samy Magdy, Bassem Mroue and David Rising, Associated Press

Egypt has sent a high-level delegation to Israel with the hope of brokering a ceasefire agreement with Hamas in Gaza, two officials have said.

At the same time, it warned that a possible Israeli offensive focused on Gaza’s city of Rafah on the border with Egypt could have catastrophic consequences for regional stability.


Egypt’s top intelligence official, Abbas Kamel, is leading the delegation and plans to discuss a “new vision” with Israel for a prolonged ceasefire in Gaza, an Egyptian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the mission freely.

Egyptian head of Intelligence Abbas Kamel
Egyptian head of Intelligence Abbas Kamel attends a meeting at Tahrir Palace in Cairo (Khaled Elfiqi/AP)

As the war drags on and casualties mount, there has been growing international pressure for Hamas and Israel to reach an agreement on a ceasefire.


Friday’s talks will focus at first on a limited exchange of hostages held by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners, and the return of a significant number of displaced Palestinians to their homes in northern Gaza “with minimum restrictions,” the Egyptian official said.

The hope is that negotiations will then continue, with the goal of a larger deal to end the war, he said.

The official said mediators are working on a compromise that will answer most of both parties’ main demands.

Hamas has said it will not back down from its demands for a permanent ceasefire and full withdrawal of Israeli troops, both of which Israel has rejected.


Israel says it will continue military operations until Hamas is defeated and that it will retain a security presence in Gaza afterwards.

Palestinians spend the day on the beach along the Mediterranean Sea during a heatwave in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip
Palestinians on the beach during a heatwave in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip (Abdel Kareem Hana/AP)

Ahead of the talks, senior Hamas official Basem Naim told The Associated Press when asked about the negotiations: “There is nothing new from our side.”


Meanwhile, Israel has been conducting near-daily raids on Rafah, a city in which more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have sought refuge.

The Israeli military has massed dozens of tanks and armoured vehicles in an area of southern Israel that is close to Rafah, in apparent preparations for an invasion of the city.

Rafah also abuts the Gaza-Egypt border.

While in Israel, Mr Kamel, who heads Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, plans to make clear that Egypt “will not tolerate” Israel’s deployments of troops along that border, the Egyptian official said.


The official said Egypt shared intelligence with the US and European countries showing that a Rafah offensive will inflame the entire region.

Israel Palestinians
Trucks, carrying humanitarian supplies for the Gaza Strip, wait in line on the Egyptian side, at the Kerem Shalom crossing border (Leo Correa/AP)

A Western diplomat in Cairo also said that Egypt has intensified its efforts in recent days to reach a compromise and establish a short ceasefire in Gaza that will help negotiate a longer truce and avert a Rafah offensive.

The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity to freely discuss the developments.

On Wednesday, Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sissi cautioned that an Israeli attack on Rafah would have “catastrophic consequences on the humanitarian situation in the strip, as well as the regional peace and security”.

Mr El-Sissi’s comments came in a phone call with Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte, the Egyptian leader’s office said.

Egypt has also said an attack on Rafah would violate the decades-old peace deal between Egypt and Israel.

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