Egypt 'resumes mediation efforts' between Hamas and Israel

Egypt 'resumes mediation efforts' between Hamas and Israel
After all talks were suspended following Israel's assassination of Saleh al-Arouri, Cairo has apparently resumed mediation between Israel and Hamas.
2 min read
10 January, 2024
Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry has previously hosted talks aimed at achieving a ceasefire in Gaza [Getty]

Egyptian mediation efforts between Israel and Hamas resumed on Wednesday in Cairo, according to Egyptian sources speaking to The New Arab’s Arabic edition.

This move comes in the wake of the assassination of Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy head of Hamas's political bureau in Beirut a week ago, which had temporarily halted talks.

On Monday, it was widely reported and confirmed by Egyptian officials that a delegation from Israel arrived in Cairo in an effort to revive hostage negotiations.

Egypt, which has been a key mediator in this conflict, received a detailed response from Hamas to a previous Egyptian peace initiative just before al-Arouri's assassination.

This response included amendments deemed necessary by Hamas for engaging effectively in the mediation process, which include an understanding between the Palestinian group and Cairo for renewed efforts to increase aid through the Rafah crossing. 

Parallel to Egypt's efforts, Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesperson Majed al-Ansari said on Tuesday that Qatar is exchanging ideas with others, in efforts to mediate a new peace deal based on mutual hostage/prisoner swaps and an increase of vital humanitarian aid into Gaza.

A significant issue emerging from these talks is Israel’s preference for the mutual release of prisoners/hostages without committing to a comprehensive ceasefire.

Hamas’s proposed amendments to the Egyptian initiative have set forth clear red lines, demanding explicit commitments from Israel. These include a pledge not to resume hostilities in the event of prisoner/hostage swaps and to agree to a long-term truce.

Hamas’s stance indicates a focus on establishing a lasting ceasefire, as opposed to Tel Aviv’s preference for “pauses”, such as with the previous temporary truce, which only lasted a week before Israel resumed attacks.

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The Israeli government is therefore exerting pressure on both Egypt and Qatar to influence Hamas in this direction.

The objective is to push for a prisoner exchange deal accompanied by a temporary, time-bound ceasefire, allowing Israel military freedom in Gaza and not committing it to a so-called final deal that is seen to leave Hamas in a position of power.