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Talks in Cairo, Riyadh boost cease-fire hope8k8 casino gamess

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Palestinians look from a damaged house at the site of an Israeli strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, April 29, 2024. [Photo/Agencies]

Hope for Israelis and Palestinians agreeing to a truce is gathering steam amid meetings in Saudi Arabia and Egypt on the humanitarian catastrophe that has reduced Gaza to rubble after months of relentless fighting.

Representatives for Hamas were set to travel to Egypt's capital Cairo on Monday for a fresh round of cease-fire talks. The delegation was to discuss a cease-fire proposal handed by the group to negotiators from Qatar and Egypt, including Israel's response, Reuters reported.

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement on Sunday that they will not accept any agreement with Israel that does not include a cessation of hostilities in Gaza, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Hamas said on Saturday that they received Israel's response to their own position on the Gaza cease-fire — submitted to mediators Egypt and Qatar on April 13 — and were studying it.

US news site Axios reported that a new Israeli proposal for a possible hostage deal with Hamas included a willingness to discuss the "restoration of sustainable calm" in Gaza after an initial release of hostages on humanitarian grounds, citing two Israeli officials.

It also noted that this was the first time since the Oct 7 attack on Israel by Hamas that Israeli leaders were open to discussing an end to the conflict in Gaza as part of a hostage deal.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned on Sunday that a possible Israeli attack on Rafah would be "the biggest catastrophe in the history of the Palestinian people", adding that he also feared the post-conflict displacement of Palestinians in the West Bank to Jordan.

Also on the same day, United States President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to review ongoing talks to secure the release of hostages together with an immediate cease-fire in Gaza and to increase the delivery of humanitarian assistance into Gaza.

Both leaders discussed Rafah and Biden reiterated his "clear position". Biden told Netanyahu in March that a major assault on Rafah would be a "mistake".

'One last chance'

On Friday, Israeli officials had warned their Egyptian counterparts that they were ready to give hostage negotiations "one last chance" to reach a deal with Hamas before its long-planned assault on Rafah, The Times of Israel reported.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Riyadh on Monday. He also was set to meet regional partners Qatar, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan.

It is Blinken's seventh visit to the region since the conflict broke out.

On Sunday, Saudi Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan bin Abdullah chaired the meeting of the Ministerial Committee assigned by the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit on Developments in Gaza.

The meeting discussed the mechanisms of intensifying joint Arab and Islamic efforts to reach an immediate cessation of the military assault on Gaza and ensure the protection of civilians by international humanitarian law.

It also discussed work on taking the necessary steps to implement a two-state solution.

The meeting stressed that Gaza "is an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory" and the categorical rejection "of any attempts to displace the Palestinian people outside their land, and any military operation in the Palestinian city of Rafah".

The ministers expressed their concern about measures taken against peaceful demonstrators in Western countries demanding "an end to the war in Gaza".

More than 34,000 Palestinians have been killed in the Israel-Hamas conflict. In Hamas' Oct 7 attack in Israel, about 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 were taken hostage.

Meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes on Rafah have killed at least 22 people, including six women and five children, Palestinian health officials said. One of the children killed in the strikes overnight into Monday was just 5 days old. More than a million Palestinians have sought refuge in the city on the Egyptian border.

Agencies contributed to this story.

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