Egypt postpones Israel-Palestine ceasefire talks after Sinai attacks

In this October 25, 2014 photo provided by Egypt's state news agency MENA, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, far left, and other officials follow a soldier carrying medals of troops killed in the October 24, 2014 assault in the Sinai Peninsula, during a military funeral in Cairo.   | Photo Credit: Sheriff Abd el-Moneim

An indirect dialogue, reinforcing a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestine, has been postponed, a Palestinian official said on Sunday.

Khaled al-Batsh, a senior Islamic leader from Gaza, said in a statement that Egypt has postponed the dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian factions until further notice due to the security situation in the Sinai Peninsula, Xinhua reported.

He said that talks on restoring calm and peace in the Gaza Strip, building a seaport and an airport as well as the process of Gaza reconstruction, were scheduled to start in Cairo on Monday.

On Friday, 30 Egyptian soldiers were killed in a series of attacks by extremist militants in Sinai.

Citing “the state of emergency in the border area between Egypt and Gaza” and the closure on Friday of the Rafah crossing, a senior Egyptian diplomat said in Cairo that indirect talks between Israel and Palestinian factions would not resume in the coming week.

No new date for the negotiations was announced.

The talks, focussed on preserving the August 26, 2014 truce that ended the five-week Gaza war and on opening the borders of the Egyptian and Israeli-blockaded territory, adjourned in late September for Jewish and Muslim holidays.

The ceasefire has been holding. An easing of frontier restrictions is crucial for reconstructing tens of thousands of homes in the Gaza Strip that were damaged or destroyed in the fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants.

Israel wants security arrangements that will ensure such material is not used by Hamas to rebuild cross-border tunnels or to manufacture rockets, whose firing at southern Israel triggered the Israeli offensive.

Palestinian officials say 2,100 people, mostly civilians, were killed in the summer conflict. Israel put its death toll at 67 soldiers and six civilians.

No group has claimed responsibility for Friday's attacks in Sinai. Similar operations have been claimed by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, Egypt's most active Sinai-based jihadi group.

Egypt has accused Hamas in the past of aiding Islamist armed groups in Sinai — an allegation denied by the Gaza movement, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.

“We are against the shedding of a drop of Egyptian blood. We wish Egypt security and stability,” said Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza.

He said Egypt had informed the group that negotiations would not be held as planned on Monday. An Israeli official said Israel had yet to receive word from Cairo on a postponement.

Egypt has declared a three-month full alert in the North Sinai bordering the Gaza Strip and said a curfew would be imposed in areas where the army is waging a security crackdown against elements suspected of killing hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and policemen in the past year.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 11:51:12 AM |

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