Egyptian Intelligence Chief Meets Netanyahu, Abbas to Discuss Gaza Cease-fire

Head of Egyptian intelligence visits Jerusalem as Israeli foreign minister meets Egyptian counterpart in Cairo

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Abbas Kamel and Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Jerusalem, Sunday.
Abbas Kamel and Benjamin Netanyahu meet in Jerusalem, Sunday.Credit: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with the head of Egyptian intelligence on Sunday, with his office saying that the two discussed ways to keep Hamas from expanding its military capabilities, amid efforts to build on a cease-fire reached between Israel and Hamas a week ago that ended the worst violence in years.

In a statement, Netanyahu said that during the meeting with Abbas Kamel he brought up Israel's demand to return the Israelis held in Gaza and the bodies of missing Israeli soldiers. The meeting was also attended by Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen and head of National Security Council Meir Ben-Shabbat.

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Kamel also met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Sunday, and is set to travel to the Gaza Strip on Monday to meet with Hamas leadership.

An Egyptian source told Haaretz that Kamel's decision to visit Ramallah before Gaza is a signal that Cairo views the Palestinian Authority as the official representative of the Palestinians. Sources in Cairo also said that the parties involved want to reach agreements before the possible end of Netanyahu's tenure, as the Egyptians do not want to start negotiations from scratch with a new prime minister.

Egypt helped broker the truce that has held since May 21, a diplomatic success that thrust it into the spotlight, and is working with the United States and other regional partners to expand it into a more permanent cease-fire.

Also Sunday, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi met in Cairo with his Egyptian counterpart amid efforts to organize a future summit with the participation of Palestinian officials.

Ashkenazi's trip to Cairo is the first official visit to Egypt by an Israeli foreign minister since 2008, and comes days after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met top officials in Cairo during a Middle East trip aimed at shoring up the recent cease-fire between Israel and Hamas.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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