Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal issued a joint appeal for an end to “Israeli aggression” in Gaza during talks in Doha on Monday.
Meeting for the first time since the start of Operation Protective Edge on July 8, the two men also called for Israel to lift its security blockade of the Hamas-controlled territory.
They “underlined the necessity of an end to the Israeli aggression and a lifting of the blockade,” chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said.
He said the two men also “decided to hold further consultations with different Palestinian factions and contacts” on ceasefire efforts.
Israel and Egypt imposed a security blockade on Gaza to prevent the import and export of weapons and the cross-border activities of terrorists.
Azzam al-Ahmed, a senior official in Abbas’s Fatah party, is to travel to Egypt, which last week proposed a ceasefire plan accepted by Israel, supported by the Arab League but rejected by Hamas, Erekat said.
Israel launched the operation to stop Hamas rocket fire on Israel, and has said it will continue until sustained quiet is achieved.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon arrived Monday in Cairo, where US Secretary of State John Kerry was also due later the same day, as international efforts to secure a ceasefire gathered apace.
Hamas has demanded the release of scores of prisoners from Israeli jails, the reopening of the Rafah Border Crossing with Egypt and an end to Israel’s blockade of Gaza.
“These are not conditions but engagements that Israel must honor,” Erekat said.
UN Secretary-General Ban, who arrived Monday in Cairo, is said to be weighing the possibility of announcing on Tuesday a long-term humanitarian ceasefire, in the presence of Abbas and Kerry, Palestinian sources told The Times of Israel.
The UN Security Council had expressed “serious concern” about Gaza’s rising civilian death toll and demanded an immediate end to the fighting following an emergency session.
Twenty-five Israeli soldiers, as well as two Israeli civilians, have been killed and over 100 injured since the conflict erupted two weeks ago. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, at least 509 people were killed and 3,150 more were injured in the Strip during the same time. The United Nation’s refugee agency for Palestinians, UNRWA, reported that at least 83,000 Gazans are taking refuge in the organization’s schools.