Missing out on proposed Gaza ceasefire deal would undermine war solutions, Egypt warns

Amr Kandil , Wednesday 5 Jun 2024

Cairo has called for Hamas and Israel to deal positively with a US-backed offer to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza, warning that missing out on this deal would diminish prospects for solutions.

Gaza attack
A ball of fire and black smoke rises moments after an Israeli air strike targeted a residential building in the city of Bureij in the central Gaza Strip on June 3, 2024. AFP


Both the Israeli and Palestinian sides need to demonstrate highest levels of responsibility and seriousness to end the war in Gaza, Spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Abu-Zeid said.

In remarks to CBC Egypt on Tuesday, Abu-Zeid said pressure should be implied on all parties to deal seriously with the deal, adding that accepting the offer recently outlined by the US would constitute a “glimmer of hope.”

“However, if things go in an opposite direction, we are going to face a very critical situation because we will be losing hope in reaching solutions,” he affirmed.


Pro-Palestinian supporters chant slogans as they march in front of the Elizabeth Tower in central London, on May 28, 2024, during a "Hands off Rafah, End the genocide" rally to call for a ceasefire in Gaza. AFP

“The Palestinian people are the one who pays the price. The people in Gaza are paying the price round the clock,” Abu-Zeid emphasized.

Last week, President Joe Biden detailed a proposal for ending the war in Gaza, which the US says “accurately reflects” an Israeli proposal.

Egypt, Qatar, and the United States jointly called on Friday for Hamas and Israel to finalize a Gaza ceasefire agreement that embodies the principles outlined by the US president.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reportedly said there are “gaps” between both the Israeli offer and the US narrative.

He stressed that Israel will not end the war until it achieves the three war objectives, including destroying Hamas’ military and governance capabilities.

Furthermore, far-right Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir have threatened to quit and dismantle Netanyahu’s government if he accepts the proposal laid out by Biden.

The three-phase plan entails a truce and the return of all captives held by Hamas, including soldiers, in addition to a permanent cessation of war and full withdrawal of Israeli forces in the second phase.

The third phase, according to Biden, will focus on Gaza reconstruction.


Mothers of Israeli soldiers who serve in Gaza hold up their hands, painted red to symbolize blood, and block a road during a protest calling to end the war, in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. AP

Hamas initially said it views Biden’s plan positively for entailing a permanent ceasefire and withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

However, Hamas official Osama Hamdan on Tuesday requested mediators to ensure Israeli commitment to these two conditions as a prerequisite for approving the deal.

On Monday, Biden told Qatar’s Emir Tamim bin Hamad that Israel is ready to move forward with the terms of the plan he detailed, urging the emir to pressure Hamas to accept the offer.

There is a need for clarity from the parties involved and publicly declared positions that clarify their stances on the deal, Abu-Zeid said in his TV remarks.

He added that while amendments to the offer can be debated, both sides need to “grasp the general direction and essence of this deal.”

“We need the parties to engage in serious dialogue with the mediators to discuss the details. However, we must never get lost in the details to the extent that we lose the opportunity,” he stressed.

Abu-Zeid also said the current offer addresses the fundamental elements of the crisis, including the exchange of prisoners and captives, addressing the humanitarian situation within the strip, reaching a permanent ceasefire, and reconstruction.

“What is needed here is to approach the spirit of this proposal holistically and build upon it,” he affirmed.

Indirect talks between Hamas and Israel, mediated by Egypt, Qatar, and the US, have so far failed to reach a captive and ceasefire agreement to stop eight months of war in Gaza.

In light of Biden’s proposals, security leaders from Egypt, Qatar, and the US are set to meet in Doha on Wednesday to “discuss mechanisms for reviving Gaza truce negotiations,” a high-level Egyptian source said.

Moreover, a delegation from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad arrived in Cairo Wednesday to discuss the developments in Gaza.


US President Joe Biden details an Israeli proposal for ceasefire in Gaza in the State Dining Room of the White House on May 31, 2024. AFP

Talks have stalled several times in May after Israeli forces invaded the city of Rafah near the Egyptian border and took over the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing, stepping up tensions with Egypt.

The Rafah crossing, the main entry point for life-saving relief aid to Gaza, has been closed since the Israeli move on 7 May, with Egypt rejecting coordinating with Israel on aid delivery through the crossing.

Egypt said Israeli forces should withdraw from the Palestinian side of the crossing as a prerequisite for reopening it.

Last week, Egypt started redirecting Gaza-bound humanitarian aid trucks from the Rafah crossing to Karm Abu Salem crossing temporarily as per an agreement between Egyptian and US presidents.

The Israeli war in Gaza has damaged most of the territory’s infrastructure, displaced most of the population, and left the strip in an imminent famine.

The unrelenting Israeli bombardment has also killed over 36,500 people and injured almost 83,000 others, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

‘The day after’

Abu-Zeid said plans for the day after the war cannot be seriously discussed ahead of the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza and a full cessation of the war, so that all parties can get involved.

He emphasized that "the day after” the war must include tackling the roots and future of the Palestinian cause by formulating a clear and defined timeline for the peace process.

“Let this be the objective. How can we ensure the establishment of the independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital on the [June 4] 1967 borders,” he stated.

He also stressed that any vision, plan, roadmap, or timeline for the peace process needs to place this goal in the forefront.

“We can then devise a peace plan with a specific timeline that is not excessively long, based on steps that are agreed upon internationally,” Abu-Zeid noted.

He added that such a plan should also be adopted and supported by the United Nations Security Council to reflect international consensus.

Additionally, Abu-Zeid slammed the approach used by the international community in dealing with the Palestinian cause over the past decades, asserting that it proved futile and wasted the rights of the Palestinian people.

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