Israeli security officials met with Egyptian Intelligence Chief in Israel Wednesday ahead of meeting with Abbas in Ramallah; Ceasefire agreement with Hamas reportedly in last days of talks; IDF opens Kerem Shalom border crossing; IDF: Designated fishing zone off the Gaza Strip will be expanded…
News reports claimed Egypt’s General Intelligence Chief, Abbas Kamel, visited Israel on Wednesday following reports Prime Minister Netanyahu met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in secret in May.
Kamel’s visit was centered on the Egyptian mediated ceasefire with Hamas, reports claiming Thursday morning that the talks are near an end and a possible one-year ceasefire with Hamas may be announced in the coming days. His talks with Israeli security officials reportedly centered on easing of restrictions on Israel’s borders with Gaza and humanitarian support, as well as the return of the remains of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, held since Operation Protective Edge in 2014, and release of Israeli citizens Avera Mengistu and Hisham Sayed.
The Egyptian official is scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Thursday as part of ceasefire talks.
Israel’s Security Cabinet announced it would reopen the Kerem Shalom border crossing to the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, lifting its ban on commercial goods. The decision follows Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s assessment of the situation and border with Gaza on Tuesday, as well as three days of relative quiet following months of rocket attacks, arson kite and balloon attacks and sniper fire on Israeli soldiers and IDF vehicles. The Cabinet met on Wednesday, announcing the border crossing would reopen, as well as an extended fishing zone in the Strip.
The IDF Spokesperson Unit confirmed Wednesday, “Following the decision of the Minister of Defense… in consultation with the Chief of the General Staff, Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the main cargo crossing into Gaza, the Kerem Shalom crossing, will be reopened this morning for full activity. In addition, the designated fishing zone off the Gaza Strip will be expanded to nine nautical miles.”
There have been several reports on warming ties between Israel with neighboring states. Media reports on Monday also claimed Prime Minister Netanyahu met in secret with Egyptian President Sisi in May 2018. The prime minister reportedly flew to Egypt with a small group of advisors, talks centered on the US peace plan, Gaza Strip and regional coordination. The meeting also focused on Egypt’s ongoing efforts to establish a long-term ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, as well as strategies to return the Gaza Strip to Palestinian Authority control.
Reports of a secret United Arab Emirates security delegation in Israel over the weekend also surfaced on Monday. The delegation reportedly met with Israeli security and military officials and toured IDF bases.
In June, a secret meeting between Netanyahu, the Crown Prince and an UAE diplomat in Amman on the sidelines during meetings with Jordanian Kind Abdullah II was reported, one of several secret meetings between Saudi and Israel officials since 2017. At least three meetings have been reported between Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with Israeli officials since 2017.
Amir spoke about the conflict with Gaza during his most recent Middle East Current Events Update. Amir’s next update will be next weekend.