Sunday 23 October 2016

Gaza Truce Talks Invite 'Still In Place': Egypt

Youssra El-Sharkawy/Cairo

Egypt today insisted that its invitation to the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government for peace talks was "still in place" despite the breakdown of a 72-hour humanitarian truce.

"Egypt assures that the invitation it sent to the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli government to send their two delegations to Cairo to study all issues of concern... within the framework of the Egyptian initiative is still in place," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Egypt had invited the Palestinian Authority and Israel to send delegations to Cairo for truce talks after the both sides had agreed to 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza brokered by the US and UN.

However, two Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed and one taken captive, hours after the humanitarian ceasefire came into effect.

Artillery shelling by Israeli in the southern Rafah area today killed about 70 people, taking the Palestinian death toll to 1,525, mostly civilians.

Israel and Hamas blamed each other for the collapse of the fragile ceasefire.

"Egypt stresses that it is important for both sides to respect the ceasefire that they have agreed on, so the negotiations can take place in a favourable atmosphere and achieve the desired results," the foreign ministry had said in a statement earlier.

The ministry later called on Israel to "stop, immediately and completely, targeting civilians and using excessive and unjustified force".

Egypt said that such use of force "only complicates matters...And does not pave the way for a resumption of the negotiations."

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri held telephone talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and several other Arab leaders to discuss the situation in Gaza.

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