Gaza ceasefire talks to resume in Cairo: Egyptian media

Egypt, Qatar and the United States have mediated negotiations for a ceasefire in Gaza previously, but a workable agreement has been elusive

Updated - March 31, 2024 06:33 pm IST

Published - March 31, 2024 12:26 pm IST - Cairo

Palestinians inspect the ruins of a residential building for the Abu Muammar family after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, March 29, 2024.

Palestinians inspect the ruins of a residential building for the Abu Muammar family after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Friday, March 29, 2024. | Photo Credit: AP

Talks aimed at brokering a truce between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip will resume in Cairo on March 31, Egyptian outlet Al-Qahera reported, days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the green light for fresh negotiations.

"An Egyptian security source confirmed to Al-Qahera News the resumption of negotiations on a truce between Israel and Hamas in the Egyptian capital Cairo tomorrow," an anchor for the channel, which is close to the country's intelligence services, said in a broadcast on Saturday.

Egypt, Qatar and key Israeli ally the United States have mediated previous rounds of negotiations, but a workable agreement has remained elusive. The mediators had hoped to secure a ceasefire before the start of Ramadan, but progress stalled and the Muslim holy month is more than half over.

On March 29, Mr. Netanyahu approved a new round of ceasefire negotiations to take place in Doha and Cairo. His office said the Israeli premier had spoken to Mossad chief David Barnea about the talks, but did not elaborate on whether Mr. Barnea would be travelling to either city.

Reports of the new talks in Cairo came as protesters in Israel's biggest city blocked a major road on March 30 following demonstrations calling for the release of hostages held in Gaza and criticising the government's handling of the war. Militants seized about 250 hostages during the October 7 attacks on Israel that sparked the war. Of those, Israel believes 130 remain in Gaza, including 33 who are presumed dead.

A key element of the ceasefire negotiations has been an agreement on releasing the hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

France's top diplomat was also in Cairo on March 30 for meetings with his Egyptian and Jordanian counterparts, with all three calling for an "immediate and permanent ceasefire" in Gaza and the release of all the hostages.

French foreign minister Stephane Sejourne also said his government would put forward a draft resolution at the UN Security Council setting out a "political" settlement of the war that would include "all the criteria for a two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

On March 25, the Security Council adopted a resolution demanding an "immediate ceasefire" in Gaza, and a UN court ordered Israel on Thursday to "ensure urgent humanitarian assistance" reaches civilians there, though neither development appears to have changed the situation on the ground.

Editorial | Stop the war: On the U.N. Security Council’s call for a Gaza ceasefire 

Hamas's October 7 attacks resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures. Israel's retaliatory campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip has killed at least 32,705 people, most of them women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.

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