Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry contacted Arab and international leaders in an effort to stop ongoing violence in the Gaza Strip after Israel Defence Forces invaded the occupied territory late Thursday night.
Shoukry spoke to the foreign ministers from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Jordan, as well as the secretary general of the Arab League and US Secretary of State John Kerry.
A statement released Friday said that these efforts were made to “reach an immediate ceasefire within the framework of the Egyptian [ceasefire] initiative” announced last Monday.
The Monday ceasefire initiative was accepted by Israel but rejected by Hamas who said the Egyptian government had never directly approached the Palestinian faction.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who supported Monday’s Egyptian-brokered ceasefire plan, arrived in Cairo on Friday for talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
During a Thursday press conference, Fabius called for an immediate ceasefire, telling reporters: “Our number one objective is the ceasefire, because the current situation is terrible.”
Fabius stressed that “there must be a general move towards political negotiation”.
On Thursday, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned “the recent escalation in military operations in the Gaza Strip by Israel”, calling for the Israeli side to exercise “maximum restraint” in military operations, that according to Egypt would only “inflame” the situation and not help Israeli security.
“Egypt stresses the legal responsibility of Israel as an occupying power to protect the lives of civilians and refrain from methods of collective punishment and the use of excessive and unjustified force,” read the ministry’s statement.
Thursday’s statement also called on “all concerned parties” to accept the Monday’s abortive ceasefire initiative “without delay or preconditions” to “prevent the continuation of the vicious circle of violence for which only the innocent Palestinian pay the price.”