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FM Ashkenazi Arrives In Egypt In 1st Such Visit In 13 Years

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi landed in Cairo on Sunday for high-level talks with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry, the first visit by an Israeli foreign minister to the Arab state since 2008.

“We will discuss establishing a permanent ceasefire with Hamas, a mechanism for providing humanitarian aid and the reconstruction of Gaza with a pivotal role played by the international community,” Ashkenazi wrote on Twitter.

But in accordance with earlier reports that Israel is conditioning the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip on the advancement of the release of Israeli citizens held by Hamas, Ashkenazi also wrote: “First and foremost, Israel is fully committed to returning our MIA’s held by the Hamas.”

Meanwhile, Egypt’s intelligence chief, Abbas Kamel, flew to Tel Aviv for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian officials in Ramallah, an Egyptian official said.

The official said Kamel would discuss with Netanyahu and the Palestinian Authority how to rebuild Gaza. Kamel is then expected to meet with Hamas leaders in Ramallah.

Egypt last week invited Israel, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority for separate talks in Cairo to consolidate the Cairo-mediated cease-fire and accelerate the reconstruction process in Gaza.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh is expected to visit Cairo this week, according to the group’s spokesman Abdelatif al-Qanou, who also said Hamas is open to discussing a prisoner swap with Israel.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem & AP)

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