Egypt Sends Ceasefire Delegation to Israel

Egypt is sending a high-level delegation to Israel in the hope of reaching a ceasefire agreement with Hamas in Gaza, while warning a possible new Israeli offensive focused on the southern city of Rafah on the border with Egypt could have catastrophic consequences for regional stability, two officials said Friday.

Egypt’s top intelligence official, Abbas Kamel, is leading the delegation and plans to discuss a “new vision” on establishing a prolonged ceasefire in Gaza with Israeli officials, an Egyptian official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to freely discuss the mission.

Kamel, who heads Egypt’s General Intelligence Service, and the rest of the delegation is expected to arrive in Israel on Friday morning.

Talks will focus at first on a limited exchange of hostages held by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners, along the return of a significant number of displaced Palestinians to their homes in northern Gaza “with minimum restrictions,” the official said.

The hope is that negotiations will then continue, with the goal of a larger deal to end the war, he said.

Hamas has said it will not back down from its demands for a permanent ceasefire and full withdrawal of Israeli troops, both of which Israel has refused. Israel says it will continue military operations until Hamas is definitively defeated and will retain a security presence in Gaza afterwards.

Israel has also been conducting near-daily raids on Rafah, a city in which more than half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million have sought refuge. The Israeli military has massed dozens of tanks and armored vehicles in the area in what appears to be preparations for an invasion of the city, which lies on the Egyptian border.

While in Israel, Kamel plans to make clear that Egypt “will not tolerate” Israel’s deployments of troops along Gaza’s borders with Egypt, the Egyptian official said.

A Western diplomat in Cairo also said that Egypt has intensified its efforts in recent days to reach a compromise and establish a short ceasefire in Gaza that will help negotiate a longer truce and avert the Rafah offensive.


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