El-Sisi, Abbas agree on necessity of 'immediate' Gaza ceasefire

Ahram Online , Thursday 17 Jul 2014

Egyptian and Palestinian presidents also called for donors' conference to help rebuild the battered Gaza Strip once a truce is reached

El-Sisi, Abbas
This undated file photo shows a meeting between Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas (Photo: Al-Ahram)

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas met in Cairo on Thursday to discuss the ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel in the Gaza Strip as well as the latest developments in the occupied territories.

According to a joint statement issued by the Egyptian presidency, both leaders agreed on the necessity of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to stop the bloodshed and loss of Palestinian lives and assets.

Such a ceasefire is to be based on the terms and conditions of the Cairo-brokered ceasefire of 2012, the statement noted.

In November 2012, Egypt sponsored a truce between Hamas and Israel following an assault on Gaza that led to the deaths of more than 140 Palestinians in non-stop airstrikes over a week-long period. Around five Israelis died as a result of rockets fired by Hamas fighters into Israel.

El-Sisi and Abbas expressed the importance of "reducing the sufferings" of Gazans by working towards opening the currently-closed Israeli crossings to the strip, guaranteeing the freedom of movement for people and goods and avoiding the killing of civilians, especially in border areas, according to Al-Ahram's Arabic news website.

Once a ceasefire is reached, Cairo will separately meet with Palestinian and Israeli factions to discuss all issues of disagreement in order to confirm the truce, the two presidents agreed.

Abbas asserted the need to provide international protection for Palestinians in order to pave the way for implementing the two-state solution based on the pre-1967 borders. El-Sisi, for his part, expressed his support for this demand as it is consistent with prior consensuses on the Arab League level.

Abbas and El-Sisi also emphasised the need for a donors' conference to help rebuild Gaza after the conflict.

At least 233 Palestinians have died in Gaza since the fighting began 10 days ago, with one Israeli fatality so far.

On Monday, Egypt launched a ceasefire initiative concerning the Hamas-Israel war that calls for an "immediate" end to hostilities from both sides.

As stipulated in the initiative's text, Egypt proposed a truce to be implemented starting from 0600 GMT Tuesday, with a ceasefire going into effect 12 hours later.

Within 48 hours of the truce announcement, Cairo was to host high-level delegations from both Israeli and Palestinian factions to discuss trust-building measures required for confirming the implementation of the deal.

On Wednesday, Hamas officially rejected the proposal following "discussions within the internal institutions of the movement", Reuters reported. Confrontations had resumed ever since.

Hamas and Israel said they would cease attacks for five hours on Thursday at 0700 GMT for a humanitarian truce based on a UN request. Two hours later, the Israeli army said three mortars fired from Gaza hit Israel, but Hamas denied any projectiles had been fired.

Minutes before the five-hour truce went into effect, Israeli tanks hit a house in southern Gaza and killed three people. 

Meanwhile, a top-level Israel delegation held talks with Egyptian officials for a Gaza ceasefire,  Egypt's state-run TV reported on Thursday. 

The delegation, headed by Shin Bet Chief Yoram Cohen, includes Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's envoy Isaac Molho and the head of the Defense Ministry's political-security department Amos Gilad. 

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