CAIRO: Egypt has stepped up efforts to rest­art talks aiming to secure a truce in Gaza and a prisoner exchange, state-linked Al Qahera News said on Tuesday.

Negotiations involving Egyptian, Qatari and US mediators have been at a stalemate since early May, when Israel sent ground forces into the southern Gazan city of Rafah and seized the Palestinian side of the nearby border crossing with Egypt.

Al Qahera News, which is linked to Egyptian state intelligence, said Cairo had “intensified efforts to relaunch” negotiations for a “truce and a detainee exchange deal”.

“We have informed all concerned parties that Israel’s insistence on committing massacres and escalating in the Pales­tinian city of Rafah weakens negotiation tracks and will lead to dire consequences,” it quoted a high-level source as saying.

Cairo has refused to send aid through the Rafah crossing “except through Palestinian and international parties and will not coordinate with the Israeli side”, the source added.Tensions between Israel and Egypt — which was the first Arab state to recognise Israel and has historically played a key mediator role — have soared this month. On Monday, Cairo condemned the Israeli strike on a Rafah displacement camp which killed 45 people as a “new flagrant violation” of international law.

Published in Dawn, May 29th, 2024

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