An Egyptian official, described as a “high-level and close to Egyptian intelligence,” blamed the Islamic Jihad and the Israeli government for obstructing advanced efforts to reach a truce agreement represented by a prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel.
He said that the latest round of escalation in the Gaza Strip postponed the completion of this deal.
He told Israeli authorities that the prisoner exchange deal was on its way to a breakthrough had it not been for the latest escalation by Israel against the Gaza Strip, which began with the assassination of Jihad field commander Bahaa Abul Atta.
On Sunday, right-wing Israel Hayom newspaper quoted an Egyptian official as saying that the swap deal was a result of a series of understandings and agreements on the establishment of calm in Gaza in return for a comprehensive plan for the coastal enclave.
He added that the United Nations has also exerted its influence to promote understandings between Israel and Hamas. The UN saw it as a practical opportunity to significantly improve the difficult humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.
According to the official, the UN envoy, Nickolay Mladenov, rushed to Cairo a few hours after the assassination of Abul Atta and participated in extensive efforts to reach a ceasefire, fearing that the achievements made in the recent rounds of negotiations between Israel and Hamas would collapse.
The newspaper said that “senior Palestinian sources in Gaza confirmed the authenticity of the details provided by the senior Egyptian official.”
But Hamas officials denied any progress in a prisoner swap deal with Israel. A source told Asharq Al-Awsat that Israeli claims about an agreement on a deal were baseless. The source added there was “a price that Israel has to pay before starting any talks.”