Egypt won’t amend truce terms to appease Hamas

Egypt won’t amend truce terms to appease Hamas

FM Sameh Shukri says proposal meets the needs of all parties involved, guarantees lifting of Gaza blockade

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri (photo credit: YouTube screen capture)
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri (photo credit: YouTube screen capture)

Egypt has no intention of amending the terms of its proposed ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said Saturday. The Egyptian proposal, which was submitted to Israel Tuesday, stated that both sides must halt all attacks and only then negotiate the terms of a longer lasting truce. The proposal was accepted by Israel but rejected by Hamas.

“The proposal meets the needs of all parties involved and we hope we can continue to progress forward with the support of Hamas as soon as possible,” Shukri said.

One of Hamas’s main concerns over the proposal had been that it did not guarantee the lifting of Israel’s blockade on the Strip. However, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry stated Friday that the ceasefire initiative did in fact call for a removal of the blockade.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Saturday called on Israel and Hamas to reach an “urgent” truce in Gaza and renew support for the Egyptian proposal. Fabius issued the call at a Cairo press conference after talks with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who is rallying international support for Cairo’s ceasefire initiative as well.

“The ceasefire is an urgent imperative,” Fabius said, adding that the French government “fully” backs Egypt’s proposal.

“The absolute priority is a ceasefire, but it must guarantee a lasting truce,” he said.

On Saturday, the Times of Israel learned that Qatar has drafted its own version of a truce offer between Israel and Hamas, one which adopts almost all of Hamas’s demands.

The draft stipulates that in exchange for a ceasefire, Israel will free Hamas prisoners who were released in the Gilad Shalit deal and rearrested recently in the West Bank following the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers; Israel will allow construction of a seaport or “sea crossing” in Gaza; Israel will fully open all crossings to Gaza; Egypt will open the Rafah border crossing into Egypt 24 hours a day; and Israel will allow Gaza fisherman to venture out 12 nautical miles from the Gaza coast.

The Qatari document was presented to US officials, Western diplomats and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas earlier this week, before Israel began its ground offensive in Gaza on Thursday night. Qatar reportedly demanded that the US help in mediation between the sides, excluding Egypt from the proceedings. Washington eventually chose the Egyptian proposal over the Qatari initiative.

Egypt’s Shukri criticized Qatar this week, saying it had conspired with Turkey to foil the Egyptian ceasefire offer.

Qatar is currently the place of residence of Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal.

Avi Issacharoff contributed to this report.

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