Israel to Hamas: No Ceasefire Deal Without the IDF MIAs

May 31, 2021 by Aryeh Savir - TPS
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Israel will “not allow a situation in which the rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip will enable Hamas to reconstruct its terrorist capabilities, nor without a resolution of the matter of returning the missing and captive Israelis being held by the Hamas terrorist organization,” Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi told his Egyptian colleague, Minister Sameh Shoukry at the Tahrir Palace during a meeting on Sunday.

The late Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin (left) with his father, Simcha. Hadar was killed in an ambush during an internationally negotiated cease-fire on Aug. 1, 2014. Credit: Courtesy Goldin family.

Ashkenazi was in Cairo on Sunday to meet with Shoukry and to discuss a possible long-term ceasefire with the Hamas terror organization, the first official visit by an Israeli foreign minister in Egypt in 13 years.

Both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who met simultaneously in Jerusalem with Egyptian General Intelligence Service head Abbas Kamel, and Ashkenazi raised Israel’s demand for the prompt return of the bodies of two IDF soldiers and the two civilians being held in by Hamas in the Strip.

The remains of IDF soldiers Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, who were killed during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in 2014, are thought to be held by Hamas.

Hamas is also holding Israeli citizens Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed who crossed the border into Gaza several years ago.

Goldin’s family has called on the government to make the return of the remains of the IDF soldiers one of the objectives of Operation Guardian of the Walls against Hamas.

The unconditional ceasefire between Israel and Hamas after Operation Guardian of the Walls, brokered primarily by Egypt, went into effect on May 21 after 11 days of warfare. The situation in the area is still tense with Hamas already presenting demands and issuing threats about the resumption of the hostilities if Israel does not meet its demands.

Ashkenazi expressed his appreciation for the “historic role played by Egypt in the breakthrough to peace between Israel and its neighbors, as well as for its concern for regional security stability.”

The two top diplomats discussed the mechanisms and processes to prevent the strengthening of Hamas and its misuse of the international aid that will be directed to the civilian population in the future.

Israel is seeking a broader deal with Hamas, while the terror organization is reportedly opposed to a comprehensive long-term solution.

Several countries have pledged millions in aid to Gaza, and Israel, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas have to agree on a mechanism that will ensure that the funds are spent on reconstruction and rehabilitation and not on the rebuilding of its terror infrastructure destroyed by the IDF during Operation Guardian if the Walls.

Ashkenazi further noted that the ongoing activity of the Palestinian Authority in international organizations and forums against Israel, such as the International Criminal Court and UN Human Rights Council, “harms the chances for future cooperation.”

“The continuing incitement by the Palestinian Authority and its activities in international institutions constitute a significant barrier to a political dialogue being held and to confidence-building measures on the ground,” he stressed.

The two Ministers also talked about regional security matters and discussed strengthening bilateral ties between the two states and expanding cooperation in the fields of trade, economics and tourism.

“Operation Guardian of the Walls and the expansion of the circle of states with which Israel has peace treaties has created an opportunity to strengthen ties and cooperation between Israel and the Arab states,” Ashkenazi estimated.

“We all have the duty to act to hinder every attempt by terrorist organizations and extremist elements, such as Iran and its proxies, to harm regional security,” he said.

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