Egypt urges 'flexibility from all parties' as Cairo set to host new round of Gaza truce talks Thursday

Ahram Online , Wednesday 7 Feb 2024

Egypt will host a new round of Israel-Gaza ceasefire talks on Thursday, as reported by Al-Qahera News TV, citing an Egyptian official source.

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip. AP
File Photo: Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip. AP

 

The talks, sponsored by Egypt and Qatar, will primarily focus on pursuing a truce in the war-torn strip and facilitating a swap deal of captives, according to the Egyptian source.

He added that "Egypt has urged flexibility from all parties involved in the ongoing talks" aimed at de-escalating the situation in Gaza. 

Additionally, the source confirmed that Egypt is exerting its utmost efforts to reach a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, release captives and prisoners, and alleviate the humanitarian crisis in the region.

Talks have been ongoing on a framework deal that involves a ceasefire in Gaza and a captives' swap. 

The framework proposal was thrashed out during a meeting in Paris involving Egyptian, Qatari, Israeli, and US officials in late January.

According to media reports, the Paris proposal includes a 45-day truce, where 35-40 Israeli captives – mainly the women, elderly, and wounded – will be released in its first phase in exchange for 100-250 Palestinian prisoners for each captive.

Further extension of the truce can then be negotiated to release more captives and prisoners in the next phases of the agreement.

Hamas has already handed its response to the deal to both Egypt and Qatar, officials from both countries said on Tuesday. 

Hamas has proposed a ceasefire plan that would quiet the guns in Gaza for four and a half months leading to an end to the war. 

According to a draft document that appeared in the media, Hamas' counterproposal envisions three phases lasting 45 days each.

According to Hamas' proposal, all Israeli women captives, males under 19, the elderly, and the sick would be released during the first 45-day phase in exchange for the release of Palestinian women and children from Israeli jails.

The remaining male captives would be released during the second phase, and the remains would be exchanged in the third phase. By the end of the third phase, Hamas would expect the sides to have agreed on an end to the war.

The group said in an addendum to the proposal that it wished for the release of 1,500 prisoners, a third of whom it wanted to select from the list of Palestinians handed life sentences by Israel.

The truce would also increase the flow of food and other aid into Gaza.

On the other hand, Israeli officials responded to the captives deal draft issued by Hamas asking for the withdrawal of Israel from Gaza, saying: “We won’t be able to accept a demand to stop the war,” Israeli Ynet reported.

“The draft asks for the release of 1,500 Palestinian prisoners, some of which are high-profile,” they added.

Egypt, alongside Qatar, helped mediate a week-long ceasefire in November, in which Hamas freed over 100 captives in exchange for 240 detained Palestinian women and children.

Israel's ground invasion and relentless bombardment have killed more than 27,000 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, and wounded over 67,000, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

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