Israel official says delegation not yet in Cairo for Gaza talks

Israel official says delegation not yet in Cairo for Gaza talks
Israel official says delegation not yet in Cairo for Gaza talks

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - File photo of Palestinian children riding their bicycles along a street devastated by Israeli bombardment in Gaza City on May 3, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas. ― AFP pic

JERUSALEM, May 4 ― A top Israeli official today said Israel will send a delegation to Cairo for talks on a Gaza truce only if it sees a “positive movement” on a framework for a hostage deal.

“What we are looking at is an agreement over a framework for a possible hostage deal,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

“Tough and long negotiations are expected for an actual deal.

“The indication for positive movement over a framework would be if we send a delegation led by Mossad chief to Cairo,” said the official, who spoke in English.

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The comments came after a senior Hamas official said the group’s negotiators had arrived in Cairo today for new talks on a proposed pause in the nearly seven-month war in the Gaza Strip.

Mediators from Qatar, Egypt and the United States have been waiting for Hamas to respond to a proposal that, according to details released by Britain, would halt fighting for 40 days and exchange hostages for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

If they manage to reach a deal, it would be the first since a week-long truce in November, when militants released 105 hostages, the 80 Israelis among them in exchange for 240 Palestinians held by Israel.

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Months of negotiations stalled in part on Hamas’s demand for a lasting ceasefire and the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, and on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s repeated vows to launch a ground assault in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah.

The prospect of a large-scale invasion of Rafah, where some 1.2 million civilians are sheltering, has sparked intensifying global alarm.

The war broke out after Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

The militants also took some 250 hostages, of whom Israel estimates 128 remain in Gaza. The army says 35 of them are dead.

Israel’s devastating retaliatory campaign has killed at least 34,654 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry. ― AFP

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