Egypt's foreign minister asks UN chief to push Israel towards truce

Dina Ezzat, Monday 4 Aug 2014

Negotiators say that a deal could be reached after 48 hours - as Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry presses UN chief Ban Ki-moon to make Israel accept eventual ceasefire

Sameh Shoukry
Egypt's newly appointed Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry (Photo: Al-Ahram)

An Egyptian negotiator said on Monday evening that Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry asked UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to encourage Israel to move towards a sustainable three-day humanitarian truce that could lead to a solid ceasefire.

"The UN secretary-general told the foreign minister that he is in continuous contact with Israel and that he is sending a clear message to Israeli officials that this war has to come to an end," said the diplomat, who spoke to Ahram Online on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, other negotiators said they did not expect a deal to be concluded in the next 48 hours.

"It could be in the next few days, but not less than 48 hours," said one of the negotiators.

Cairo, who has been in continuous contact with Israeli officials by telephone, has asked Israel to send an envoy to facilitate the indirect talks that Egypt is trying to host.

The assessment in Cairo is that the Palestinian delegation is positive that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is still not willing to end attacks on Gaza, essentially for reasons to do with his internal political calculations.

Egyptian mediators say they are working around the clock to finalise a humanitarian truce, but as one of them put it, "Sometimes we get close and other times we are set back."

According to Gaza officials, 1,820 Palestinians have been killed and more than a quarter of its 1.8 million residents have been displaced so far. Israel has confirmed that 64 soldiers have died in combat, while Palestinian shelling has killed three civilians in Israel.

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