Egypt, Qatar, US, Israel negotiators resume Gaza ceasefire talks in Paris Friday

Amr Kandil , Friday 23 Feb 2024

Officials from Egypt, Qatar, the US, and Israel are expected to meet in Paris on Friday to resume negotiations on a potential deal for a ceasefire and prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel, according to media reports.

Palestinians search for survivors after an Israeli airstrike on buildings in the refugee camp of Jabalia in the Gaza Strip. Photo: AFP


Head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service Abbas Kamel, Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, CIA Director William Burns, Mossad Director David Barnea, and Director of the Israeli Security Agency (Shabak) Ronen Bar will take part in the talks.

The fresh round of negotiations follows the US ME advisor’s recent talks in Egypt and Israel regarding the Gaza war.

US Middle East advisor, Brett McGurk, said following the talks that some progress has been made with Hamas, according to Axios. 

White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby described McGurk’s talks in Cairo and Israel as “constructive.”

Hamas in Egypt 

A high-level delegation from Hamas led by Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the movement’s political bureau, concluded a visit to Cairo to discuss means of halting the Israeli assaults on Gaza.

In a statement on Friday, Hamas said its delegation held several meetings with Egypt’s intelligence chief and his aides.

The talks addressed ways to ensure the return of displaced Palestinians to their homes in the strip, including to northern Gaza, and a prisoner swap deal with Israel.

They also discussed the Israeli plans to prevent Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and occupied from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque for prayers during the holy month of Ramadan.

The Paris talks are the latest in a series of efforts mediated by Egypt and Qatar to agree on terms for a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas before the advent of Ramadan.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has derailed various rounds of negotiations in Paris and Cairo in the past few weeks as Israeli officials threaten to carry out a ground assault against Rafah by Ramadan

On Tuesday, the US vetoed for the third time a UN resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza war, a matter that garnered widespread international condemnation.

Int'l Pressure on Israel

The negotiations are taking place amid mounting political and legal pressure on Israel, whose decades-long occupation of the Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem, is under scrutiny in historic hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The ICJ’s week-long proceedings, in which a record of 52 states participating, come as Israel is proceeding with its brutal war on Gaza and intending to storm the border town of Rafah.

Many states have called for an “immediate” end to the Israeli occupation. The US, however, told the ICJ on Wednesday that Israel should not be legally forced to withdraw from the occupied territories without security guarantees.

Egypt presented its arguments before the court on Wednesday, saying that Palestinians have endured forced displacement, collective punishment, indiscriminate violence, and daily human suffering for 75 years.

The Israeli relentless attacks in Gaza have killed 29,514 people and injured 69,616 others since October 7, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

The war has also displaced 85 percent of Gaza’s population, according to the United Nations, and rendered most hospitals and vital facilities inoperable.

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