Gaza truce talks invite ‘still in place,’ Egypt says

After 72-hour ceasefire unravels as Hamas kills 2 soldiers and seizes a 3rd, Cairo urges a return to its terms

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

Egypt said Friday its invitation to Israeli and Palestinian delegations for talks on a longer-term Gaza ceasefire was “still in place” despite a 72-hour humanitarian truce breaking down.

The proposed three-day truce that began at 9:30 a.m. collapsed amid the killing of two Israeli soldiers and the capture of a third by Hamas.

The foreign ministry said Cairo was following “with great interest and concern” the latest developments in the Gaza Strip.

It urged all parties to “fully abide by the conditions of the humanitarian truce” which had been announced overnight by US Secretary of State John Kerry.

“Egypt assures that the invitation it sent to the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government to send their two delegations to Cairo to study all issues of concern… within the framework of the Egyptian initiative is still in place,” a foreign ministry statement read.

It also said that Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri held telephone talks on Friday with Kerry, Abbas and several other Arab leaders to discuss the situation in Gaza.

Earlier on Friday, Egypt invited the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority to come to Cairo for longer-term truce talks, with the two teams expected to arrive later in the day.

But Islamic Jihad’s deputy leader Ziad al-Nakhale told AFP that the Egyptian authorities have “postponed” the dialogue after Israel revealed one of its soldiers may have been captured.

Even so, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said a joint Palestinian delegation, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, will travel to Cairo on Saturday for ceasefire talks despite the renewed fighting.

The 72-hour truce, announced in a joint US-UN declaration, had come as a compromise after Hamas rejected an Egyptian initiative earlier last month for a durable truce followed by talks.

Hamas had demanded guarantees that Israel would end its eight-year blockade of Gaza, a demand Israel has rejected for security reasons.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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