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Egyptian officials discuss Gaza reconstruction with Israel and Palestinian leaders

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By Euronews with AP
Heavy machinery sifts through the rubble of a destroyed building in Gaza for valuables on Thursday, May 27
Heavy machinery sifts through the rubble of a destroyed building in Gaza for valuables on Thursday, May 27   -   Copyright  John Minchillo/AP
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High-level talks were held in Egypt and Israel on Sunday over the details of a fragile truce with Hamas in the Palestinian Territories.

The discussions revolved around the ceasefire and efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip after a punishing 11-day war left parts of the seaside enclave in ruins.

By the time the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire came into effect on May 21, rockets fired from Gaza had killed 13 Israelis while bombardment by the Israel Defense Forces killed 248 Palestinians.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukry received his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi, in Cairo on Sunday as part of Egypt's efforts to “build on the cease-fire in Gaza,” the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said.

Spokesman Ahmed Hafez said Shukry had called for “serious and constructive” negotiations between the two sides. Sunday marked the first public visit by an Israeli foreign minister to Egypt since 2008.

As part of the cease-fire efforts, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also hosted Abbas Kamel, Egypt's intelligence chief, in Jerusalem.

An Egyptian official told AP the talks had touched on a set of measures that would allow materials, electricity and fuel into Gaza, as well as the possible expansion of maritime space allowed for Gaza fishing fleets.

“The role of the Palestinian Authority is central in the talks,” he said. “Egypt is seeking to have it deeply involved in the reconstruction process.”

Kamel was also due to meet with Palestinian officials in the West Bank before heading to Gaza for talks with Hamas leaders.

Egypt's state-run MENA news agency said Kamel would convey a message from Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, affirming “Egypt's full support to the Palestinian people”.

Egypt has offered guarantees that rebuilding funds will not find their way to Hamas, with the money potentially going through an international body led by Egypt or the United Nations that would oversee the spending.