Palestinian President to visit Egypt on Wednesday for Gaza talks

Ahram Online, Tuesday 15 Jul 2014

President Mahmoud Abbas comes to Cairo for discussions on Egypt's proposed truce between Israel and Hamas in the battered Gaza Strip

Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem on December 25, 2011. (Photo: Reuters)

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is to visit Egypt on Wednesday for talks with Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi over a ceasefire initiative proposed by Egypt to halt the ongoing Gaza crisis, the Palestinian wire service Wafa reported.

Abbas also said that he will be visiting Turkey on 18 July for discussions over Gaza.

Cairo is holding talks with Israel and all Palestinian factions, including Gaza rulers Hamas, to put an end to assaults that have led to the death of 193 Palestinians and the injury of hundreds more, according to Al-Ahram's Arabic news website.

On Monday evening, the Egyptian government proposed a truce involving a ceasefire scheduled to start on Tuesday at 0600 GMT.

Abbas accepted the proposal, as did Israel's security cabinet, according to AFP.

However, Hamas' armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, announced on its official website on Tuesday that it had not been informed about the "alleged initiative", neither officially nor unofficially, and that its demands had not been met.

"Our battle with the enemy will continue and will increase," the Al-Qassem Brigades said.

But Hamas is still debating the Egyptian-proposed Gaza truce, according to the deputy head of the group's political bureau, who said in a tweet that consultations were still ongoing – but that no official stance had been taken yet.

Meanwhile, a senior Israeli official – speaking on condition of anonymity – told AFP that the military had been ordered to "act forcefully".

Israeli attacks on Gaza resumed on Tuesday, as did rocket fire out of Gaza, according to Israeli military sources.

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maleki – who welcomed the truce – arrived in Cairo on Monday to attend an Arab foreign ministers' meeting to discuss the situation in Gaza.

On Thursday, Egypt opened its border crossing with the Gaza Strip to receive Palestinians injured in the Israeli offensive.

Meanwhile, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has ordered the Egyptian army to transport 500 tonnes of food and medical supplies to aid Palestinians.

Egypt's foreign ministry has condemned what it calls Israel's excessive use of military force and collective punishment against the Palestinians.

Violence in the besieged coastal strip began building up three weeks ago after three Jewish settlers were abducted in the occupied West Bank. Their bodies were found last week. A Palestinian teenager was then kidnapped and burned alive shortly afterwards in Jerusalem. Israel initiated air strikes against Gaza and Hamas retaliated by firing rockets towards Israel.


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