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Egypt boosts diplomacy to stop 'escalation' in Gaza, Israel

Egypt boosts diplomacy to stop 'escalation' in Gaza, Israel
October 9, 2023 Web Desk

CAIRO, Egypt (AFP) - Egypt intensified its push Monday for diplomatic efforts to de-escalate spiralling violence in Gaza and Israel, his office said, after three days of fighting killed more than 1,200 people.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, whose country has historically been a key mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, spoke with UAE Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, agreeing to "intensify discussions and diplomatic efforts to stop military escalation", Sisi's spokesman said.

Abu Dhabi normalised relations with Israel in 2020 under the US-backed Abraham Accords, over four decades after Cairo became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

On Sunday, Sisi spoke with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, warning of the dangerous "absence of political prospects". Abbas' government administers the occupied West Bank, while Hamas governs the Gaza Strip.

Sisi also spoke on Sunday with Jordan's King Abdullah II, whose country acts as custodian of Muslim and Christian holy sites in Jerusalem and recognised Israel in 1994. Since Saturday, Sisi has also spoken with French President Emmanuel Macron, European Council President Charles Michel, and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Egypt's diplomatic flurry comes after Hamas militants launched Saturday a multi-pronged attack into Israel, which responded with air strikes on the blockaded Gaza Strip. More than 700 Israelis were killed, in addition to 560 Palestinians in Gaza, according to officials on both sides.

No negotiations seem to be in sight, with Israel announcing "a complete siege" on the Gaza Strip amid what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said would be a "long and difficult war". European Union foreign ministers will hold urgent talks Tuesday on the situation in Israel and Gaza, while in Cairo, Palestine's permanent representative has made a similar request of the Arab League.