CAIRO — The U.S. and Egypt sought today 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.
It’s unlikely that Washington is ready to wade back into the morass of peace negotiations that broke off in April after nearly nine months of shuttle diplomacy by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. But the new round of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants who control Gaza has reached the level of violence that U.S. officials warned last spring would happen without an enduring truce.
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 said 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 U.S. and Israel but been rejected by Hamas.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri said today’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.”
More than 600 Palestinians and 29 Israelis have been killed since the new war began July 8.