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Ambassador: Egypt working to end Gaza crisis

July 16, 2014 9:24 P.M. (Updated: July 16, 2014 10:55 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- The Egyptian ambassador to Palestine said on Tuesday evening that his government is exerting major efforts to end the hostilities in Gaza, stressing that he considers Israel fully responsible for the current situation.

In an interview with Awdah TV, Wael Atiyeh said that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas would meet with his Egyptian counterpart Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi in Cairo, expressing his hope that the two will reach an agreement to end the Israeli aggression on Gaza.

The comments come only a day after an Egyptian-engineered ceasefire deal fell apart, after Hamas said that they had not been consulted on the terms of the deal Egypt and Israel agreed upon.

Atiyeh, however, placed the blame for the conflict squarely on Israel, stressing that exempting Israel from its responsibilities as an occupier is "a gift given for free to Israel" and that "economic burdens caused by the offensive on Gaza must be shouldered on Israel only."

Asked about the possible Egyptian initiative to stop Gaza war, the ambassador said the initiative focused on a bilateral ceasefire, a solution to the crisis with the closure of the Rafah crossing, and a return to the 2012 ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.

Atiyeh also defended his country against criticism directed toward Egypt by regional entities, stressing that the country "does its duty toward the Palestinian plight as a national priority."

"The coming days will reveal to everybody the huge effort Egypt has been exerting in order to stop the aggression on the Palestinian people," he continued.

Egypt has come under fire in recent days after Israel announced a bilateral ceasefire deal struck with their help that Hamas leaders said they had not been informed of.

After rockets continued being launched, Israel subsequently accused Hamas of breaking the ceasefire and announced an even more expanded campaign in response.

Egypt has maintained a stridently anti-Hamas tone since the military unseated the democratically-elected government of president Morsi last summer, shutting down the underground tunnels that provided a vital lifeline to the Strip's 1.7 million residents amid a crippling seven-year-long Israeli siege.

Under Morsi, Egypt helped negotiate a 2012 ceasefire that ended an Israel assault that killed around 170 Palestinians, and his government sought to work as a mediator between Israel and the Palestinians while simultaneously maintaining its warm relations with Israel.
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