“We’re going to talk to #Hamas about establishing a permanent ceasefire, a mechanism for providing humanitarian aid and rebuilding #Gaza, which is central to the intl. Community, ”Ashkenazi tweeted upon arrival in Cairo.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi sent the country’s intelligence chief to Tel Aviv to speak with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other Israeli officials. They will talk about the consolidation of the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the latest developments in the Palestinian territories, the state-run MENA news agency reported.
An Egyptian official said Abbas Kamel, director of the General Directorate of Intelligence, will also meet with Palestinian officials in Ramallah before going to Gaza to meet with Hamas leaders. The agency, which is Egypt’s equivalent to the CIA, usually looks after Egypt’s relations with Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups in Gaza.
Talks with Israeli officials are also expected to touch on a range of measures that will allow materials, electricity and fuel to enter the territory, as well as possible expansion of the sea area allowed for fishermen in the Gaza Strip, the official said.
“The role of the Palestinian Authority is central to the talks,” he said. “Egypt is keen to involve it deeply in the reconstruction process.”
The Egyptian official, who was well aware of the procedures leading to the ceasefire, spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to inform reporters.
The 11-day war killed more than 250 people, mostly Palestinians, and caused severe destruction in the impoverished coastal area. Preliminary estimates put the damage in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Egypt was key to brokering an agreement between the two sides.
The official said Egypt would provide guarantees that rebuilding funds would not find its way to Hamas, possibly through an international committee headed by Egypt or the United Nations that would oversee spending.
Kamel will also discuss the situation in Jerusalem and ways to alleviate tension in the holy city, including easing Israeli restrictions at Al-Aqsa Mosque and preventing the planned eviction of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in east Jerusalem, officials said said.
Talks in Gaza and Tel Aviv would also examine the possibility of releasing Palestinian prisoners in Israel in exchange for the Israelis held by Hamas, he said.
Egypt last week invited Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for separate talks in Cairo to consolidate the Cairo-brokered ceasefire and accelerate the reconstruction process in Gaza.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is expected to visit Cairo this week, according to the group’s spokesman Abdelatif al-Qanou, who also said Hamas is open to discussions about a prisoner swap with Israel.