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Egypt denies CNN claims on Gaza ceasefire's deal manipulation

'Baseless and absurd': Egypt denies CNN claims of manipulation on Gaza ceasefire deal
3 min read
Egypt - Cairo
22 May, 2024
CNN claimed a senior Egyptian intelligence officer altered the terms of the Israel-Hamas ceasefire deal before submitting it to the Palestinian faction.
A high-level Egyptian security official denied the CNN's allegations of manipulation of Gaza ceasefire terms. [Getty]

A high-level Egyptian security official denied a report run by CNN claiming that a senior intelligence official at Egypt's general intelligence agency altered the terms of a ceasefire deal between Hamas and Israel before presenting it to the Palestinian faction, which many say led to the collapse of talks early this month. 

"The Israeli side has been pointing accusing fingers at Egypt since it had declared its intention to join South Africa in the genocide case against [the Zionist state] before the International Court of Justice, and after the country had repeatedly rejected Israeli plans to displace Gazans into North Sinai," added the security official, describing the accusations against Egypt as being "baseless and absurd."

"Egypt has relentlessly played its role perfectly following the war on Gaza, despite difficulties and stumbling blocks and the Israeli persistent intransigence," they told The New Arab on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of their position.

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According to CNN, the changes to the terms came more than a week after a team of Egyptian negotiators flew to Israel in late April to hammer out some of the final details for the release of Israeli hostages in exchange for a halt in fighting and the return of Palestinian prisoners.

CNN cited three sources familiar with the talks as claiming that the deputy head of Egyptian general intelligence, Ahmed Abdel Khalek, tasked with the Palestinian file, was responsible for making the changes.

"CIA Director Bill Burns, who has spearheaded the American efforts to broker a ceasefire agreement, was in the region when word reached him that the Egyptians had changed the terms of the deal," the report alleged.

"Burns was angry and embarrassed, the same person said, believing it made him look like he wasn't in the loop or hadn't informed the Israelis of the changes," CNN added.

The changes reportedly made by Egyptian intelligence, the details of which have not been previously reported, led to a wave of anger and recrimination among officials from the US, Qatar and Israel and left ceasefire talks at an impasse, the report claimed.

"The ceasefire agreement ended up announcing on May 6 was not what the Qataris or the Americans believed had been submitted to Hamas for a potential final review," the alleged sources told CNN.

The Egyptian official told TNA that "Israel had been blaming mediators and accusing them of bias to stall the cessation of hostilities against the Palestinians of Gaza."

Neither were the nationalities nor the allegiances of the sources quoted by CNN were revealed.

Last week, Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani said that talks over a truce in Gaza had reached a stalemate due to Israel's military operations in Rafah opposed by Egypt.

Sheikh Mohammed said the main difference between Hamas and Israel had been over the release of hostages and ending the war. Doha has been a key mediator between the Palestinian Hamas faction and Israel throughout the war that first erupted on 7 October last year.

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Israeli operations in the Palestinian Rafah City, bordering Egypt, which started earlier this month, worsened an already dire situation in besieged Gaza following the closure of the Rafah Border Crossing in North Sinai, the Palestinian enclave’s only connection to the outside world.

On Tuesday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in his testimony before Congress that a ceasefire deal was still possible, but an International Criminal Court arrest bid for Israeli officials led to a setback in diplomatic efforts.

Blinken credited Qatar and Egypt with assisting the "extensive effort" to cut a temporary truce deal between Hamas and Israel in return for the release of hostages as Burns, the US point man in the talks, left the region empty-handed less than two weeks ago.