Gaza ceasefire talks in Cairo see progress as negotiators reach consensus on basic points – report

Talks to finalise terms of agreement expected over next 48 hours

Maroosha Muzaffar
Monday 08 April 2024 08:42 BST
Israeli siege leaves Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital flattened

Negotiations for a ceasefire in Gaza are advancing in Cairo, with all involved parties reaching a consensus on basic points, according to an Egyptian official on Monday.

The state-affiliated Egyptian TV channel, Al-Qahera News, quoted a senior official as saying that Hamas and Qatar’s delegations have departed Cairo but were expected to return within two days to finalise the terms of the final agreement, Reuters reported.

Israeli and US delegations were still in the Egyptian capital, Al-Qahera said.

The report added that negotiations would continue over the next 48 hours. None of the parties involved in the negotiations has confirmed the Al-Qahera report so far, Reuters noted.

However a Hamas official told Reuters on Monday that no progress has been made at the new round of ceasefire talks.

Hamas is reported to have reiterated its demands for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, the withdrawal of Israeli forces, the return of displaced Palestinians to their homes, and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners for Israeli hostages.

The Israeli offensive in Gaza, which began on October 7, has killed at least 33,100 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry. Israeli bombardment has also turned vast swathes of the densely populated territory into rubble and forced nearly 1.9 million people, 80 percent of the population, to flee their homes.

According to Al Jazeera, Hamas said its aim for the negotiations was “an agreement that achieves a complete cessation of aggression by Israeli forces”.

“The withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip. The free return of the displaced in the Gaza Strip to their areas and places of residence. Relief for Palestinians in Gaza and the beginning of the reconstruction. A deal for the release of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of Israeli prisoners held by Hamas and the other groups in Gaza,” it added.

According to Haaretz, the Israeli delegation in Cairo included David Barnea, head of the national intelligence agency Mossad, Ronen Bar, chief of the internal security service Shin Bet, and Nitzan Alon, head of Hostages Headquarters.

The talks also included CIA director William Burns from the US and prime minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani from Qatar.

The Israeli newspaper quoted a source as saying that the US was expected to present a new proposal for prisoner exchange that would require significant concessions from both Israel and Hamas.

“The significant involvement and pressure applied by the US can influence the standstill that the negotiations are in,” it added.

Additional reporting by agencies

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