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Israel, Egypt talk truce with Hamas, rebuilding Gaza Strip

The 11-day war killed more than 250 people, mostly Palestinians, and caused heavy destruction in the impoverished coastal territory.

Published: 30th May 2021 04:28 PM  |   Last Updated: 30th May 2021 04:28 PM   |  A+A-

People stand in a clearing strewn with debris from an israeli airstrike during an 11-day war between Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel

People stand in a clearing strewn with debris from an israeli airstrike during an 11-day war between Gaza's Hamas rulers and Israel. (Photo | AP)

By PTI

CAIRO: Egypt and Israel are holding high-level talks in both countries Sunday to shore up a fragile truce between Israel and the Hamas militant group, and rebuild the Gaza Strip after a punishing 11-day war that left much of the seaside enclave in ruins.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry was meeting with his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, who landed in Cairo on Sunday.

It was the first public visit by an Israeli foreign minister in over a decade, according to the Egyptian Foreign Ministry.

The Israeli Embassy in Cairo said on Twitter that Ashkenazi's visit is the first for a top Israeli diplomat since 2008.

It wrote that the two ministers would discuss topics including the cease-fire and the release of Israeli soldiers and citizens being held by Hamas.

Map shows the Gaza Strip and its estimated number of destroyed
structures based on satellite analysis of the region performed by the
United Nations as of May 20. Israeli airstrikes, which began on
May 10, have left the Palestinian territory in state of devastation.
(Photo | AP)

Meanwhile, Egypt's intelligence chief, Abbas Kamel, flew to Tel Aviv for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian officials in Ramallah, an Egyptian official said.

The official said Kamel would discuss with Netanyahu and the Palestinian Authority how to rebuild Gaza.

Kamel is then expected to meet with Hamas leaders in Ramallah.

The discussions with Israeli officials also are expected to touch on a set of measures that would allow materials, electricity and fuel into the territory, as well as the possible expansion of the maritime space allowed for Gaza fishermen, the official said.

“The role of the Palestinian Authority is central in the talks,” he said.

“Egypt is seeking to have it deeply involved in the reconstruction process.”

The Egyptian official, who had close knowledge of the proceedings that led to the cease-fire, spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't allowed to brief reporters.

The 11-day war killed more than 250 people, mostly Palestinians, and caused heavy destruction in the impoverished coastal territory.

Preliminary estimates have put the damage in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Egypt was key in mediating a deal between the two sides.

The official said Egypt would offer guarantees that rebuilding funds will not find its way to Hamas, possibly going through an international committee led by Egypt or the United Nations that would oversee the spending.

Kamel will also discuss the situation in Jerusalem and ways to water down tensions in the holy city, including an ease of Israeli restrictions at the Al-Aqsa Mosque and how to prevent the planned eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

The talks in Gaza and Tel Aviv would also look into the possibility of a release of Palestinian prisoners in Israel in return for Israelis held by Hamas, the official said.

Egypt last week invited Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for separate talks in Cairo to consolidate the Cairo-mediated cease-fire and accelerate the reconstruction process in Gaza.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is expected to visit Cairo this week, according to the group's spokesman Abdelatif al-Qanou, who also said Hamas is open to discussing a prisoner swap with Israel.

(AP) NSA 05301601 NNNN



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