US, Egypt eye flexibility to reach Gaza deal

Egypt and the US have called for flexibility to reach a hitherto elusive ceasefire and hostage release deal between Hamas and Israel after an inconclusive round of negotiations in Cairo.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed during a phone conversation on Thursday night on the “importance of urging the parties to show flexibility” and make the necessary efforts to reach the deal, an Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Friday.

Israel and Hamas do not negotiate directly, so the US, Qatar and Egypt are acting as mediators.

Shoukry and Blinken discussed the latest security and humanitarian situation in Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, packed by refugees.

The Egyptian official warned against repercussions of Israeli military operations in Rafah, neighbouring Egypt, the spokesman added in a statement.

Earlier this week, Israel took control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing, halting humanitarian aid deliveries via the facility into the heavily populated Gaza Strip.

Rafah is the last holdout for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. Israel sees the city as Hamas’ last stronghold.