Israel has conditioned the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip on promoting the issue of bringing back its citizens held by the Hamas terrorist group, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported Thursday morning.
The parties are expected to meet for indirect talks in the Egyptian capital of Cairo in an attempt to reach an outline for a long-term ceasefire, the rehabilitation of the Palestinian enclave following the recent spate of cross-border violence and an agreement on the issue of prisoners and missing persons.
The Gaza terrorist outfit holds the bodies of fallen IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed in action, and civilians Avera Mengistu and Hisham a-Sayed.
According to the report, Israel will also demand to hold talks through two separate mediation channels.
Egypt is expecting to play a key role in the rebuilding of Gaza, an issue that was taken up by Qatar following previous rounds of fighting between the Jewish state and Palestinian terrorist factions.
The Egyptians are reportedly seeking to establish a designated directorate that would supervise a future settlement between the parties and make sure that aid money doesn't fall in the hands of Hamas.
In addition, Cairo demands that Egyptian companies lead rebuilding efforts, but other Arab and international companies are given the opportunity to take part as well.
According to the report, Cairo aims to make the Rafah border crossing the main gateway to the Gaza Strip as opposed to the Erez crossing at the Israeli border.
Egypt called on the two sides on Wednesday to hold talks in Cairo to solidify a ceasefire that took hold last Friday and ended an 11-day conflict in which 13 people in Israel and at least 253 Palestinians were killed.
If the talks do happen, the delegation on behalf of Israel to Cairo will be headed by the National Security Advisor Meir Ben Shabbat. The defense establishment has not been updated on the talks.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken — who jetted to Egypt and Jordan on Wednesday to "rally international support" to rebuild hard-hit Gaza while promising to make sure that none of the aid reaches Hamas. He is instead trying to bolster Hamas' rival, the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority.
He did, however, make it clear that the U.S. had no immediate plans to pursue peace talks between the sides. Blinken has also done little to address the underlying causes of the decades-long conflict, though he expressed hope for creating a "better environment" that might lead to negotiations.
In Cairo, Blinken on Wednesday met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi for nearly two hours. Meeting with American diplomatic staff afterward, he described Egypt as a "real and effective partner" that helped end the Gaza war and is helping "build something positive."
El-Sissi spoke to President Joe Biden last week before and after the ceasefire was announced.
"I think we both believe strongly that Palestinians and Israelis deserve equally to live in safety and security to enjoy equal measures of freedom, opportunity and dignity. And we're working on that together," Blinken said before departing to Jordan.
Meanwhile, Qatar pledged $500 million for Gaza's postwar reconstruction.
The Gulf state has often served as a mediator between Israel and Hamas and it has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian and development aid to support past ceasefires.
"We will continue to support our brothers in Palestine in order to reach a just and lasting solution by establishing their independent state," Qatar's Foreign Minister, Mohammad bin Abdulrahman Al Thani, wrote on Twitter.