Gaza ceasefire talks set to begin in Cairo today

Published April 7, 2024
Two girls walk past tents pitched by the rubble of destroyed buildings in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 5. — AFP
Two girls walk past tents pitched by the rubble of destroyed buildings in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 5. — AFP

GAZA STRIP: American, Israeli and Hamas negotiators are expected in Cairo over the weekend in a renewed push for a ceasefire and hostage release deal in a war that reaches the half-year mark on Sunday.

Egypt’s Al-Qahera News said CIA Director Bill Burns and Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al-Thani would join Egyptian mediators for Sunday’s indirect talks between the Israeli and Hamas delegations.

A Hamas delegation headed by the group’s deputy chief in Gaza, Khalil Al-Hayya, will go to Cairo on April 7 for the ceasefire talks, the group said in a statement on Saturday.

Hamas reiterated its demands issued in a March 14 proposal prior to a UN Security Council resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip that was passed on March 25.

Hamas reiterates demand for permanent ceasefire, withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian enclave

The demands include a permanent ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, a return of the displaced, and a ‘serious’ exchange deal of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages being held in Gaza, the statement said.

The ceasefire attempt comes after Israel’s military made a rare admission of wrongdoing and said it was firing two officers over the killing of seven aid workers in Gaza where humanitarians say famine is imminent.

The admission did not quell calls for an independent probe, however.

The deaths of the workers from US-based World Central Kitchen (WCK) on April 1 led to a tense call between US President Joe Biden and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths decried Israel’s war against Hamas and called for a “collective determination that there be a reckoning for this betrayal of humanity”.

Ahead of the weekend talks, Biden wrote to the leaders of Egypt and Qatar urging them to secure commitments from Hamas to “agree to and abide by a deal”, a senior administration official told AFP.

Stop-start talks have made no headway since a week-long truce in November saw some hostages exchanged for Palestinian prisoners detained by Israel.

The White House confirmed negotiations would occur this weekend in Cairo.

Biden’s Thursday call with Netanyahu included discussions on “empowering his negotiators” to reach a deal, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

Washington blames the lack of a deal on Hamas’s refusal to release sick and other vulnerable hostages. Qatar has said Israeli objections to the return of displaced Gazans are the main holdup.

Biden is under pressure over massive US military aid to Israel which, so far, Washington has not leveraged despite increasingly critical comments about Israel’s conduct of the war.

The Israeli military announced it was firing two officers after finding a series of errors led to the drone strikes that killed the WCK workers.

WCK said its Gaza operations remain suspended after the attack, while other global aid groups said relief work in the territory has become almost impossible.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

A new operation
Updated 25 Jun, 2024

A new operation

SERIOUS concerns had been raised by opposition political parties — particularly those with presence in KP — ...
Power theft
25 Jun, 2024

Power theft

FEDERAL Energy Minister Awais Leghari’s statement during a TV interview that electricity theft amounts to Rs600bn ...
Fatal air
25 Jun, 2024

Fatal air

TOXIC air can cost us our children. It causes life-threatening illnesses, inflicts lifelong damage and leads to ...
Time for dialogue
Updated 24 Jun, 2024

Time for dialogue

If the PML-N and PTI remain mired in mutual acrimony, an ever-widening gap will continue to allow non-political forces to assert themselves.
Property taxes
24 Jun, 2024

Property taxes

ACCORDING to reports in the local media, along with the higher taxes imposed on real estate in the recent budget, ...
Fierce heat
24 Jun, 2024

Fierce heat

CLIMATE change is unfolding as predicted by experts: savage heat, melting glaciers, extreme rainfall, drought, ...