Cairo – The US and Egypt sought on Tuesday to find an end to two weeks of bloodshed in the Gaza Strip, and officials raised the possibility of restarting stalled peace talks between Israel and Palestinian authorities as a necessary step to avoid sustained violence.
Kerry, meeting with Egypt’s president and other high-level officials, stopped short of advocating a new round of peace talks. Still, he left open the door for broad negotiations between Israel and Palestinian officials once a cease-fire is reached.
“Just reaching a cease-fire is clearly not enough,” Kerry told reporters after meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. “It is imperative that there be a serious engagement, discussion, negotiation, regarding the underlying issues and addressing all the concerns that have brought us to where we are today.”
Egypt has proposed a cease-fire plan that is backed by the US and Israel but been rejected by Hamas. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said Tuesday’s talks were focused “to not only resolve this issue, but also to set in motion once again the peace process that Secretary Kerry has been so actively involved in so as to end this ongoing conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis.”
In a separate meeting with Kerry, Arab league President Nabil Elaraby called the Gaza bloodshed a “massacre.” More than 600 Palestinians and 29 Israelis have been killed since the new war began July 8.
“People are dying in the streets in large numbers,” Elaraby told Kerry. “And what is needed is for all hostile acts should end as soon as possible. Just like someone is bleeding, and you need a Band-Aid, but that is not enough. You need more to be able to survive.”
Israeli aircraft have hit more than 70 targets in the Gaza Strip in the last day, including the home of the late leader of Hamas’ military wing, five mosques and a football stadium, according to a Gaza police official.
At the same time, an Israeli defence official told The Associated Press that an Israeli soldier is missing following a deadly battle in Gaza over the weekend, and it is not known whether he is dead or alive.
In the past Israel has paid a heavy price to retrieve soldiers captured by its enemies.
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