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Gaza talks are underway in Cairo – but without Israel

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A Palestinian and American flag at George Washington University in Washington. Photo: Susan Walsh / AP / NTB

Of NTB | 04.05.2024 19:03:59

Policy: Egyptian state media reported on Saturday “significant progress” in the ceasefire negotiations in Cairo. There, brokers from Qatar, Egypt and the United States met with Hamas’ negotiators to hear the militant Palestinian group’s response to the proposal for a ceasefire, as well as the release of hostages and prisoners.

Israel is waiting to send a delegation to Cairo. Israeli negotiators have helped draw up the proposals that are now on the table, but any agreement must also be approved by the Israeli government.

Neither party has openly provided any updates on the status of the negotiations. But there is no shortage of sources who speak anonymously, sometimes contradictory, to international media while the talks are ongoing.

– Israel will under no circumstances agree to end the war as part of an agreement on the release of the hostages, says the source of Haaretz.

However, another Israeli official tells the same newspaper that Israel is “nervously waiting to see Hamas’ final response” to the agreement proposal. The source comments on reports in the Saudi Arabian newspaper Al-Sharq that Hamas is expected to accept the proposal on Saturday.

A senior Israeli official told the AFP news agency on Saturday that Israel will only send a delegation to Cairo if they see “positive movement”.

– We expect difficult and lengthy negotiations on an actual agreement, says the official.

In recent days, mediators from Qatar, Egypt and the United States have been waiting for a response from Hamas, which has expressed both skepticism and optimism, but at the same time emphasized that the negotiations are continuing.

Israeli minister Benny Gantz says that if Hamas comes up with an official answer, the war cabinet will meet to discuss the matter.

The war has almost lasted seven months, and the Israeli attacks against the Gaza Strip continue. On Saturday, it was reported that a further 32 people have been killed, which means that at least 34,654 Palestinians have so far been killed in the war, according to Palestinian health authorities. The vast majority of the victims are civilians.

– It’s terrible, she says in an interview with NBC that will be broadcast on Sunday.

according to unconfirmed messages US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in recent days has tried to push for a breakthrough by putting pressure on Hamas’ exile leadership, who lives in Qatar.

He is said to have demanded that Qatar throw them out if they do not agree to the proposals now on the table.

Hamas, for its part, demands a permanent ceasefire and guarantees that Israel will not resume attacks.

At the same time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has continued to threaten an Israeli ground invasion in Rafah, in the very south of the Gaza Strip, where more than 1 million internally displaced Palestinians are located.

According to analysts, the message may primarily be aimed at own ministers in what is Israel’s most right-wing government ever. Several of them are strongly against an agreement with Hamas.

– Netanyahu was the obstructionist in all the previous rounds of talks. And it is clear that he still is, says senior Hamas representative Hossam Badran to the AFP news agency.

Both the UN and the US have warned strongly against an Israeli ground invasion in Rafah and stressed that it will lead to enormous civilian suffering for the Palestinian civilian population. UN bodies warned last Friday that an invasion of Gaza would lead to a bloodbath and put hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians in danger.

Among them is a senior Israeli official, who apparently denies that the ongoing talks could lead to an end to the war. The source, who has spoken anonymously to the American news agency AP and the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, says Israel is determined to invade Rafah.

According to the newspaper, Hamas has allegedly received guarantees from the US about a ceasefire and a full Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in the third phase of the agreement, as well as a promise that Israeli forces will not continue the war after the hostages are released. This must be a central demand for Hamas.

According to Arab media, such as Palestinian al-Quds and Saudi Asharq, Hamas will deliver a positive answer, perhaps already during Saturday.

Pressure is increasing to reach an agreement that can stop the hostilities, which have led to massive suffering for the civilian population. The World Food Programme’s director Cindy McCain says there is now a “full-scale famine” in northern Gaza.

Egypt, together with Qatar and the United States, has been at the forefront of the mediation between Israel and Hamas. The latest proposal will involve a 40-day ceasefire and the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in several stages.

Hamas has accused Netanyahu of trying to sabotage an agreement through repeated threats to invade Rafah.

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