Ashkenazi in Cairo for First Visit by Israeli FM in 13 Years

YERUSHALAYIM -
Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi disembarks from his plane in Cairo, Sunday. (Foreign Ministry)

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi flew to Cairo on Sunday for a meeting with his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Choukri. This will be the first visit by an Israeli foreign minister to Cairo since 2008 and it will focus on Egypt’s efforts to broker a longtime ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the terrorist group controlling the Gaza Strip, in the wake of recent hostilities.

According to Arab and Israeli media, Head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate Maj. Gen. Abbas Kamel is expected to visit Israel on Sunday for talks with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and senior security officials.

Kamel will then travel to Ramallah for talks with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The third stop on his visit will be Gaza, on Monday, where he is slated to meet with Hamas leaders.

An Egyptian delegation has also been in Gaza since Friday and informed Hamas officials that a deal with Israel should include the handing over of the bodies of two soldiers, killed during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, and the return of two Israeli citizens held captive by the terrorist group.

According to Arab media reports, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who resides in Qatar, will personally head the terrorist group’s delegation to the ceasefire talks in Egypt.

While in Cairo, Haniyeh will seek to promote issues including the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip, resolving the rivalry with Fatah, and potentially forming a unity government with the Palestinian Authority so as to facilitate the rebuilding of the coastal enclave.