Negotiators express mixed reactions to potential ceasefire in Gaza as Ramadan nears



Wed, 28 Feb 2024 - 02:57 GMT


Wed, 28 Feb 2024 - 02:57 GMT

Destruction caused by the war in Gaza - WAFA

Destruction caused by the war in Gaza - WAFA

CAIRO – 28 February 2024: With the holy month of Ramadan fast approaching, negotiators are expressing a range of opinions regarding the possibility of a ceasefire in Gaza.

The Israeli war in Gaza has been ongoing since October 7, and both Israel and Hamas have yet to reach a reliable understanding for a ceasefire and a prisoner deal to free more than 100 captives in the strip.

While Egypt, Qatar, and the United States remain cautiously optimistic about a potential ceasefire deal in the coming days, Hamas and Israel have shown no signs of reaching an agreement thus far.

President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, attending an annual celebration for People of Determination in Cairo, expressed his hopes for a ceasefire in Gaza to be agreed upon "in the coming days" in order to restore normalcy to the strip.

President Sisi also reiterated Egypt's unwavering support for the Palestinian cause until the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the June 4, 1967 borders.

Egypt has been actively working towards achieving a permanent ceasefire in Gaza, emphasizing the disastrous consequences of the Israeli attacks.

However, reaching a permanent ceasefire faces significant challenges.

Ongoing talks between Egypt, Qatar, the United States, and Israel are currently focused on negotiating a temporary halt to the fighting, but Hamas continues to insist on a permanent ceasefire.

The world is pinning hopes on Egypt and Qatar, which mediated a week-long truce between Israel, resulting in the freeing of over 100 captives held by Hamas and 240 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons.

‘Big gaps’ vs optimism

President Joe Biden is also optimistic that a ceasefire in Gaza would be achieved as soon as next Monday.

“My national security advisor tells me that we’re close, we’re close, we’re not done yet,” the US president said told reporters on Monday. “My hope is by next Monday we’ll have a ceasefire.”

Courtesy of The Guardian
Courtesy of The Guardian/screenshot


Head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Service (GIS) Abbas Kamel, Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul-Rahman Al Thani, CIA Director William Burns and Israeli Mossad Director David Barnea have been engaged in ceasefire negotiations in Paris, Cairo, and soon in Doha.

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday that the negotiators have agreed on “basic outlines” of a prisoner swap deal for a temporary cessation of fighting in Gaza.

However, a Hamas official described Biden’s optimism as premature and not matching the situation on the ground. He told Reuters that “big gaps” persist in the agreement.

Qatar, which gears up for hosting negotiations between the four countries’ officials soon, has shown mixed reactions towards the prospects of a close agreement. Its foreign ministry denied on Tuesday the presence of any agreement between Israel and Hamas so far.

“So far, the negotiations have not yielded any tangible results,” said spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar Majed Al-Ansari. “We are optimistic. At least we aspire that something will emerge today or tomorrow, and that we can reach an agreement for a ceasefire during the month of Ramadan.”

Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamas has embarked on a visit to Paris, focusing his talks with President Emmanuel Macron on Gaza ceasefire efforts.

Ceasefire more urgent than ever

As the global community increasingly calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, the urgency of the situation is underscored by the rising number of casualties, the collapse of humanitarian infrastructure, and the threat of starvation faced by hundreds of thousands of Gaza's population of 2.3 million.

Over the past 145 days, the Israeli war has resulted in nearly 30,000 deaths and over 70,000 injuries, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza.

Global concerns are heightened by a planned Israeli ground invasion of Rafah city, whose population swelled from around 200,000 to 1.4 million people due to the displacements as a result of the war.

Egypt and world countries have strongly warned against this operation given its inevitable catastrophic humanitarian consequences.

The city is hosting most of Gaza’s population, though hundreds of thousands remain in other areas across the strip.

Egypt has special fears regarding the offensive in Rafah, which lies on the Egyptian border, as this can push all population in the city to cross the border to Sinai.

Egypt says the displacement of Palestinians in Gaza outside their lands would undermine the Palestinian cause and make the two-state solution harder to be achieved.

Egypt also warns that such displacement endangers the country’s national security, labelling this planned displacement as a “red line.”

In October, President Sisi warned that this step would mean moving attacks against Israel to originate from the Sinai Peninsula instead.



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