Egypt, Israel FMs discuss Gaza ceasefire

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his visiting Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi discussed solidifying the ongoing ceasefire in place between Israel and the Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip, as well as ways to revive the Israel-Palestine peace process.

The trip is the first formal visit by an Israeli Foreign Minister to Egypt in nearly 13 years.

During their meeting on Sunday, Shoukry and Ashkenazi agreed to continue consultations between the two countries and the Palestinian Authority “to explore ways out of the current stalemate in the peace track”, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The talks also addressed the necessary measures to facilitate the reconstruction of Gaza Strip following the recent Israeli bombings that caused massive damages to the enclave’s infrastructure.

Egypt has allocated $500 million for the reconstruction.

Ashkenazi’s visit came 10 days after the Egypt-brokered ceasefire on May 21 that ended the 11-day bloodshed in and around the Gaza Strip, which left at least 248 Palestinians and 12 Israelis dead.

During the meeting, Shoukry called for taking further measures during the current truce to reinforce calm and provide the necessary conditions for “creating an atmosphere conducive to reviving the desired political path”.

He also reiterated Egypt’s fixed position in support of the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital based on the 1967 borders.

The Foreign Minister also referred to the two-state solution as “the only way to achieve just and lasting peace, as well as the desired regional security and stability”, emphasizing the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination.

On his part, Ashkenazi said that “Egypt is an important regional ally, committed to security and stability, and the maintenance and expansion of peace in the region”.

“We all need to act to prevent strengthening extremist elements that threaten regional stability, and to ensure the return home of the missing persons and prisoners held by Hamas,” he said.

The top Israeli diplomat added that he and Shoukry also “discussed enhancing economic and trade cooperation, including the renewal of direct flights between our countries”.

Ashkenazi’s trip to Cairo coincided with Egypt’s sending of a high-profile security delegation to Israel and Palestine to discuss related issues and thetruce.

The security delegation will discuss ways to reach a comprehensive truce in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.