Egypt in talks with Palestinians, Israelis to reach ceasefire deal but to no avail

Ahram Online , Tuesday 18 May 2021

The statements by the Hamas official came after several Israeli media outlets said Egypt has proposed a ceasefire initiative between Israel and Hamas that enters into force at 6 am on Thursday

Rockets are launched towards Israel from Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on May 18, 2021. - Heavy air strikes and rocket fire in the Israel-Gaza conflict claimed more lives on both sides as tensions flared in Palestinian "day of anger" protests in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Calls for a ceasefire intensified, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Israel would continue its onslaught on the coastal enclave "as long as necessary," before a UN Security Council meeting broke up after less than an hour without issuing a statement. (Photo: AFP)

No agreement has been reached over a ceasefire starting Thursday between Palestine’s Hamas and Israel as a deadly aggression against the Gaza Strip entered its second week with mediation efforts to no avail.

According to an official statement, Hamas political bureau member Ezzat al-Rashq refuted what he claimed were Israeli media reports on the group’s agreement of a ceasefire on Thursday.

“No agreement or specific timings have been reached for the ceasefire,” Al-Rashq said, stressing that efforts by mediators were serious and persistent.

The statements by the Hamas official came after several Israeli media outlets said Egypt has proposed a ceasefire initiative between Israel and Hamas that enters into force at 6 am on Thursday.

There has been no official confirmation by Israeli officials on the ceasefire talks, yet a senior Israeli official told Haaretz that a ceasefire is expected on Thursday if any unexpected developments do not occur.

“There is no decisive result and there won’t be one,” the official said.

A diplomatic source familiar with Egypt’s mediation efforts told The Times of Israel that talks were still ongoing and no such agreement has been reached.

The contradictory reports on the proposed ceasefire came hours after an Egyptian official said Cairo is engaged in intensive talks with the Palestinian and Israeli sides and all the active parties in order to reach a ceasefire agreement.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4, Egypt’s Ambassador to the UK Tareq Adel said the Egyptian government warned of the repercussions of the recent escalation of violence between the Palestinians and Israelis following the Israeli escalations in East Jerusalem and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

The ambassador urged all active partners, including the UK and the US, to play a role in reaching a ceasefire agreement.

He said that the ceasefire is a top priority for Egypt in light of the increased number of civilians killed in Palestinian territories and Israel. 

This is at least the second attempt by Egypt to mediate a ceasefire as escalations mounted in the strip since last week.

An Egyptian delegation - sent to Israel in an attempt to broker an immediate ceasefire in Gaza - left late Thursday after Israel rejected Cairo's mediation efforts for the ceasefire.

Sources told Al-Arabiya TV at the time that the Egyptian delegation left Tel Aviv, late on Thursday, in objection over an expanded Israeli military operation.

The sources said that the Egyptian delegation has proposed to Israel a one-year truce that is to be monitored and coordinated by Cairo.

The same delegation had met with Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip first then crossed into Israel by land.

Some 217 people were killed in Gaza, with an injury toll climbing up to 1,500 after Israel stepped up aggression since last week.

The death toll in Israel stood at 12, with at least 300 wounded.

The fighting which began last week, has been deemed the most serious since 2014 after Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in retaliation for hostilities by Israeli police against Palestinian protesters near Al-Aqsa Mosque. 

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