Publish dateSunday 18 February 2024 - 16:31
Story Code : 286062
Egypt preparing safe areas for Gaza refugees, foreign minister says
Move comes as ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas make little progress, according to key Qatar negotiator.
Afghan Voice Agency (AVA)-Monitoring: Egypt is preparing safe areas for Gaza refugees, Cairo has said, as the key Qatar negotiator in the ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas admitted they have made no progress in recent days.
Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, said at a security conference in Munich on Saturday that while his country would deal with civilians humanely, the displacement of Palestinians remained unacceptable.
“It is not our intention to provide any safe areas or facilities, but if this is necessary we will deal with the humanity that is necessary,” he told the annual gathering. Egypt is caught between making contingency plans and not being seen to encourage those in Israel who believe the tens of thousands of refugees trapped on the border with Egypt can be pressed into leaving Gaza.
Shoukry added that Egypt regarded a ground attack on Rafah, where 1.2 million refugees are housed, would be seen as a red line.
Asked about the movement of bulldozers and tanks on his side of the border by Gaza, he said: “This is very hypothetical. We have constantly been dealing with maintenance on our border so I think it is jumping to conclusions to what those activities constitute.”
Qatar’s prime minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, said at the same conference that recent talks for a framework ceasefire deal were “not very promising”. He added time was “not on our side”.
Sheikh Mohammed said two issues were in dispute: the provision of humanitarian aid and the number of prisoners to be released as a proportion to the number of hostages.
“The pattern in the last few days are not really very promising but, as I always repeat, we will always remain optimistic and will always remain pushing,” he said, adding that he thought that if negotiations on the humanitarian element of the deal were resolved then the obstacle over the numbers of those released would be ultimately tackled.
Sheikh Mohammed said he thought the best route to the release of hostages was the joint unconditional agreement to a ceasefire.
The Israeli president suggested at the conference that Hamas militants in Gaza may not be in regular contact with the Qatar mediator due to fears of signals being picked up by Israel.
Isaac Herzog said: “It’s complicated, it’s difficult. One has to make sure that we know whether there is anybody who makes decisions on the other side. After all, you’re dealing with people who are being hidden and scattered all around Gaza, mostly in the tunnels and we have to know their whereabouts.
“We are worried about the medication that came in and according to our data and information, it hasn’t been received yet or by some of them, but most of them we don’t know.”
The Saudi foreign minister, Faisal Farhan, did not shift on his offer of normalization relations with Israel, saying: “We are firmly convinced that the only pathway towards security and stability for everyone in the region, including Israel, is through a Palestinian state.”/Guardian
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