New ceasefire talks in Cairo

New ceasefire talks in Cairo



full screen Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has created devastation in, among other places, Khan Yunis. Archive image. Photo: Hatem Ali/AP/TT

Representatives of Hamas and Israel as well as mediators from Qatar, Egypt and the United States are now gathering in Cairo for new talks on a possible ceasefire in the Gaza war.

The Hamas delegation is expected to arrive on Sunday and is led by the group’s deputy leader in Gaza, Khalil Al-Hayya, reports the Reuters news agency.

Ahead of the negotiations, Hamas has repeated its demands from March for a permanent ceasefire and for Israel to withdraw from Gaza. This, in turn, will pave the way for a “serious” settlement on the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the hostages that Hamas, labeled as terrorists, took in Israel at the start of the war.

The demands have previously been rejected by Israel.

At a dead end?

Ceasefire talks have been going on for months led by Egypt and Qatar. Last week, Israel recalled its team from Qatar, after negotiations there reached an impasse. But in a phone call on Thursday between US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden is said to have strongly urged Netanyahu to ensure that an agreement to bring the hostages home is reached with immediate effect.

Among other high-ranking Egyptian officials, CIA chief Bill Burns from the United States and Qatar’s foreign minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim are on site in Cairo. Israel’s intelligence chief David Barnea is also expected to attend, according to media reports.

Hard pressed

The talks are made more difficult by the fact that the parties cannot negotiate directly, but only through representatives.

Israel has been under heavy pressure from international condemnation since its military accidentally killed seven aid workers in Gaza on Monday. The new round of talks begins on the day six months after the Gaza war broke out, through Hamas’s attack on Israel.