Egypt Invites Israel and PA for Truce Talks
Egypt has invited Israel and the Palestinian Authority to send delegates to Cairo for truce talks, after both sides agreed to a 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza, the foreign ministry said on Thursday night, according to AFP.
The delegations, which will include representatives of Hamas in Gaza, are expected to depart at any moment, a senior Hamas official said.
"Egypt emphasizes the importance of both sides committing to the ceasefire so the negotiations can take place in a favorable atmosphere," the Egyptian foreign ministry said in a statement quoted by AFP.
The ceasefire is scheduled to start at 0500 GMT Friday (8:00 a.m. Israel time).
The temporary ceasefire, announced in a joint U.S.-UN declaration, came as a compromise after Hamas rejected an Egyptian initiative earlier last month for a durable truce followed by talks.
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," he declared.
The delegations are expected to start arriving in Cairo later Friday.
Frank Lowenstein, the U.S. Middle East envoy, was also expected to depart on Friday to the Egyptian capital, a State Department official said.