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Abbas pushes for truce in Gaza in Egypt

THE LEVANT – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with Islamic Jihad leaders including deputy secretary general Ziyad al-Nakhala and Khalid al-Batsh in Cairo on Friday evening, after arriving from Qatar earlier in the afternoon.

The Islamic Jihad media office said the meeting aimed to discuss ceasefire initiatives that adhere to Palestinian demands. 

Abbas and his accompanying delegation landed at Cairo airport on Friday afternoon to begin a 3-day visit to Egypt in which he is scheduled to lobby Egyptian officials for their help in securing a lasting truce with Israel.

Abbas was accompanied on the trip by PLO chief negotiator and executive committee member Saeb Erekat, PLO executive committee member Saleh Rafaat, Fatah central committee member Azzam al-Ahmad, and head of intelligence Majed Farraj. 

Political sources in Cairo said the visit comes at a critical time, given that earlier in the week the Israeli negotiations delegation left Cairo without responding to a ceasefire proposal offered by the Palestinian side.

While the details of that proposal were not released, officials had said it offered Israel concessions without giving up key Palestinian demands like the lifting of Israel’s eight-year siege on the Gaza Strip or the re-opening of the airport and seaport.

Israel has failed to respond to Palestinian and international calls for the end of the economic blockade, which has caused severe economic damage and reduced the majority of Gazans to aid dependency. 

Israel, however, has responded with demands that Palestinian militant groups in Gaza disarm, a demand that Palestinian groups have scoffed at in the wake of the massive Israeli assault of the past six weeks that has killed more than 2,090 Palestinians.

Abbas arrived in Cairo after coming from Doha, where he met with Qatari Emir and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal to discuss a ceasefire. 

Abbas is expected to meet Egyptian president Abd al-Fattah Sisi and other Egyptian officials Saturday.

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