Egypt has invited Israel and the Palestinian Authority to send delegates to Cairo for truce talks, after both sides agreed a 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza, the foreign ministry said Friday.
The delegations, which will include representatives of Hamas in Gaza, are expected to depart at any moment, a senior Hamas official said.
“Egypt emphasises the importance of both sides committing to the ceasefire so the negotiations can take place in a favourable atmosphere,” the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement.
The ceasefire is scheduled to start at 0500 GMT Friday, possibly ending a 24-day war in which at least 1,435 Palestinians have been killed, along with 56 Israeli soldiers and three Israeli civilians killed in Hamas attacks.
The temporary ceasefire, announced in a joint US-UN declaration, came as a compromise after Hamas rejected an Egyptian initiative earlier last month for a durable truce followed by talks.
The Islamist militants had demanded guarantees that Israel would end its eight-year blockade of Gaza.
Senior Hamas official Ezzat al-Rishq told AFP more talks were needed on finding a solution to the blockade of the coastal enclave. “More efforts are needed,” he said in a telephone interview from Doha, where Hamas’s political leadership is based.
“But now the whole world knows Gaza will not accept a siege.”
The delegations are expected to start arriving in Cairo later Friday.
Frank Lowenstein, the US Middle East envoy, was also expected to depart on Friday to the Egyptian capital, a State Department official said.
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