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Israeli FM visits Egypt for talks on Gaza cease-fire

May 30, 2021 at 5:38 pm

Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel Gabi Ashkenazi (L) meets Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt Sameh Shoukry (R) in Cairo, Egypt on May 30, 2021 [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi arrived in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, on Sunday for talks on the Gaza cease-fire with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry, according to Egyptian media, reports Anadolu Agency.

The state-run Al-Akhbar newspaper said the two diplomats will discuss ways of consolidating the cease-fire and the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip.

In a Twitter post, Ashkenazi thanked Shoukry for the invitation to visit Egypt which he said was “the first formal visit of an Israeli FM in 13 years.”

Ashkenazi said discussions will focus on the recent cease-fire agreement with Hamas, Gaza reconstruction, returning of Israeli soldiers held captives by Hamas as well as other regional issues and bilateral relations.

“We will discuss establishing a permanent cease-fire with Hamas, a mechanism for providing humanitarian aid & the reconstruction of Gaza with a pivotal role played by the international community,” Ashkenazi said. “First and foremost, Israel is fully committed to returning our MIA’s held by the Hamas.”

READ: Hamas chief to discuss ‘thorny’ files in Cairo meeting

In April 2016, Hamas said it had taken four Israeli soldiers captive while withholding their identities except for Oron Shaul, an Israeli soldier missing since the 2014 Israeli offensive on Gaza.

An Egyptian-brokered truce that took effect in the early hours of May 21 ended Israel’s 11-day bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli attacks in Gaza and the West Bank killed at least 289 people, including women and children, and left behind a trail of destruction. Health centers, media offices, as well as schools were among the structures targeted.

The head of the UN Human Rights Council has said that the Israeli airstrikes on Gaza may constitute war crimes.