President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi said on Saturday an Egyptian truce plan provided a “real chance” to end the Gaza conflict, stressing the need for its speedy implementation.
“The Egyptian proposal is the real chance to find a solution to the crisis in Gaza and to end the bloodshed,” Sissi told a joint news conference with visiting Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi.
“Time is decisive, we have to take advantage of it quickly to douse the fire in the (Gaza) Strip… and to stop the bloodshed of Palestinians.”
A Palestinian delegation is expected in Cairo on Saturday to discuss a truce, a day after a temporary ceasefire collapsed after Hamas attacked Israeli troops — killing two soldiers and apparently kidnapping a third.
When the latest Gaza war erupted last month, Egypt — the traditional broker in such conflicts — cobbled together a ceasefire proposal, quickly backed by Israel, Arab governments, the United States and the United Nations, but brushed off by Hamas.
Hamas accused Egypt of coordinating with Israel and bypassing the Palestinian movement when offering the ceasefire proposal.
Sissi, who last year ousted his Islamist predecessor, Mohamed Morsi, had moved to further isolate Hamas, a close ally of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood.
The Brotherhood has faced a brutal police crackdown since Morsi’s overthrow last year.
On Saturday, Sissi insisted that the Egyptian proposal could be the basis to launch negotiations between Israel and Hamas.
“It is the third time that there is Palestinian bloodshed,” Sissi said, referring to earlier conflicts in 2008 and 2012.
“We should take advantage of the difficult circumstances… and we have a real chance to put an end to the current crisis and build on it a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian cause.”
Renzi gave his backing to the Egyptian initiative and called for the release of an Israeli soldier said to have been captured by Hamas.
“I join my voice to the voices of European ministers in calling for the release of the captured Israeli soldier,” Renzi said.
Hamas’s armed wing has denied any knowledge about the fate of the missing Israeli soldier.
A joint Palestinian delegation, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad representatives, is arriving in Cairo later Saturday for talks for a longer-term truce in Gaza.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.