Egypt urged the Palestinians and Israelis to agree to an indefinite ceasefire and resume indirect talks following the collapse of a 24-hour ceasefire extension last Tuesday.
In contrast to previous calls for a ceasefire, the Egyptian foreign ministry called on Saturday for an open ended agreement to end the “spilling of the innocent blood of the sons of the Palestinian people and to achieve their interests and safeguard their legitimate rights”.
The longest ceasefire to be agreed on by both sides and to hold was a five-day truce, which was followed by the 24-hour extension that collapsed on Tuesday.
The Egyptian foreign ministry’s announcement came hours after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi shared an “intimate” discussion on the situation in Gaza with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday morning.
Abbas arrived in Cairo on Friday for an official visit following meetings in Doha with Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Meshaal following the collapse of a truce between the Palestinian factions in Gaza and Israel last Tuesday.
“Wasting time is a waste of the whole cause,” said Abbas, calling for a resumption of indirect talks with Israel, in a press conference following his meeting with the Egyptian president. He insisted that Hamas is “convinced” that Egypt’s initiative is the only way to achieve a lasting ceasefire.
Abbas reaffirmed the need for a ceasefire, stressing: “We should not ask why this or that happened. Who did what can be discussed later. The most important thing now is to end bloodshed.”
Senior Hamas member Ezzat Rishq announced on Saturday morning that Hamas signed a document calling for Abbas to pursue legal action with the International Criminal Court against Israel.
The Palestinian Authority leader was accompanied by Palestine’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, intelligence chief Maged Farag, and head of the cross-faction Palestinian delegation for the Gaza talks Azzam Al-Ahmad.
Abbas said he intends to meet with Arab League Secretary General Nabil El-Araby during his stay in Cairo.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has carried out airstrikes in the densely populated Gaza Strip since the ceasefire was broken last Tuesday evening. The Israeli forces claimed on Saturday that 400 rockets had been fired from Gaza towards Israel since the collapse of the ceasefire agreement.
The latest round of fighting has seen the death toll in Gaza rise to over 2,092, including at least 478 children, according to the Gazan health ministry. On the Israeli side at least 67 have been killed, including a four-year old boy on Friday at a kindergarten. The IDF claimed the rocket was fired from a school being used as a UN shelter, but retracted the claim hours later, saying it was a “shelter maintained by Hamas authorities in Gaza”.