Israeli FM visits Egypt for Gaza ‘permanent ceasefire’ talks
Israeli foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi arrived in Cairo Sunday to discuss with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry the establishment of a "permanent ceasefire" between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers.
Ashkenazi tweeted in Arabic, English and Hebrew that his Cairo trip is "the first formal visit of an Israeli FM in 13 years".
"We will discuss establishing a permanent ceasefire with Hamas, a mechanism for providing humanitarian aid & the reconstruction of Gaza with a pivotal role played by the intl. community," he added.
He also noted that his government was "fully committed" to repatriating Israeli prisoners held by Hamas.
Senior Egyptian security officials confirmed to AFP on Sunday that Hamas's leader Ismail Haniyeh would also be in Cairo for discussions but would not provide further details.
Concurrently, Egypt's intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, who is leading a high-level security delegation, is expected to visit Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, the officials added.
"President [Abdel Fattah] al-Sisi instructed the general intelligence chief to discuss with the Israeli Prime Minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] and concerned authorities the fixing of a permanent ceasefire and the latest developments on the Palestinian front," they said.
Sisi has also tasked Kamel with ending political divisions between rivals Hamas and Fatah, the officials said.
Palestinians have been politically divided for years between Hamas, which took over the Gaza Strip in 2007 and Fatah, the dominant Palestinian movement in the West Bank, but analysts say the latest escalation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has served to unite the geographically fragmented Palestinian community in a way not seen in years.
Israel launched its attack on Gaza after Hamas fired rockets in response to an assault by Israeli security forces on Palestinian worshippers at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque which left hundreds of people injured.
Israeli strikes on Gaza killed 254 Palestinians, including 66 children, health officials said.
Rockets and other fire from Gaza killed 12 people in Israel, including one child and three foreign workers.
Sisi has pledged $500 million to help reconstruction efforts in the densely populated enclave, which was pummelled by Israeli air strikes and remains under a crippling Israeli siege.