The Jerusalem Post

Cairo talks on hostages said to be unsuccessf­ul


Indirect Egyptian-mediated talks in Cairo between Hamas and Israel failed to advance a deal that would allow the release of two Israeli citizens held captive and the return of the remains of two of IDF soldiers killed in the 2014 Gaza war, KAN news reported.

Israel has insisted that any agreement to rehabilita­te Gaza must be linked to the return of the soldiers and citizens. President Reuven Rivlin delivered this message to US President Joe Biden on Monday and to UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Tuesday.

At issue are the bodies of Lt. Hadar Goldin and St.-Sgt. Oron Shaul, presumed to have been killed during the 2014 Gaza war, and the fate of two Israeli citizens, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who crossed into Gaza in 2014 and 2015, respective­ly.

According to KAN, both the delegation­s were in Cairo at the same time. The Israeli Cairo delegation including Coordinato­r for Captives and Missing Persons Yaron Blum tasked with securing the release of the soldiers and hostages.

Egypt, with the help of the UN, is attempting to broker a permanent cease-fire to prevent a further outbreak of IDF-Hamas violence, such as last month’s 11-day Operation Guardian of the Walls.

Israeli restrictio­ns on the entry of constructi­on material and dualuse items have prevented Gaza from reconstruc­ting buildings and facilities damaged during the war. Israel has linked constructi­on material with the return of the hostages. In addition, a mechanism has not been put in place that would prevent Hamas from diverting the constructi­on material for military purposes such as attack tunnels.

In his meeting with Rivlin, Guterres “stressed the importance of unconditio­nal humanitari­an access and of reconstruc­tion in Gaza,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. Guterres, however, “reiterated that the fate of two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two IDF soldiers held by Hamas in Gaza remains an important humanitari­an concern and called for their return,” Dujarric said.

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