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Egypt hopeful on Gaza talks, waiting for response, foreign minister says

Egypt hopeful on Gaza talks, waiting for response, foreign minister says
Qatar-based Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh speaks to journalists as he welcomes the Iranian foreign minister (not in the photo) in Doha. (Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry / AFP)

CAIRO, April 29 (Reuters) - Egypt is hopeful about a proposal for a truce and the release of hostages in the Gaza Strip but is waiting for a final response on the plan from Israel and Hamas, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said on Monday.

A Hamas delegation left the Egyptian capital Cairo late on Monday to consult with the group’s leadership on the latest, tweaked proposal and was expected to report back within two days, two Egyptian security sources said.

Egypt, alarmed by the prospect of an Israeli ground operation in Rafah where more than one million people took shelter near its border, has made a renewed push in recent days to revive stalled negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

Along with Qatar and the U.S., Egypt has led efforts in recent months to broker a ceasefire deal for the conflict that would involve the freeing of Israeli hostages taken by Hamas on Oct. 7 and of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

“We are hopeful the proposal has taken into account the positions of both sides, has tried to extract moderation from both sides, and we are waiting to have a final decision,” Shoukry said on a panel at a World Economic Forum meeting in Riyadh.

“There are factors that will have impact on both sides … but I hope that all will rise to the occasion and recognise that we cannot have the situation of continuing loss of life.”

The Egyptian security sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said some amendments had been made on conditions for a final ceasefire in Gaza demanded by Hamas, and around the Palestinian group’s demand for an Israeli withdrawal from the coastal enclave.

Hamas had said on Saturday that it had received Israel’s latest position and would study it before submitting a reply.

Shoukry was speaking on a panel in Riyadh with Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, who said Israel’s government was responsible for opposing a two-state solution for Israel and Palestinians that could bring lasting peace.

“(Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu says he wants victory in Gaza but he has only brought a complete defeat for Israel … making Israel a pariah state,” Safadi said.

(Reporting by Aidan Lewis, Ahmed Mohamed Hassan, Sarah al-Safty and Suleiman al-Khalidi; Editing by Hugh Lawson, William Maclean and Lincoln Feast.)

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