May 16, 2021 - World

U.N. envoy resumes push for cease fire in Gaza

Tor Wennesland. Photo by KHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP via Getty Images

Tor Wennesland, U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, has been holding extensive talks with both Israel and Hamas over the past 24 hours in an effort to restore peace, a diplomatic source tells Axios.

Driving the news: The source said Wennesland spoke on Sunday to Israel’s National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat and other senior Israeli security officials as well as Hamas officials and Egyptian intelligence officials.

What they are saying: “The talks the U.N. envoy is having with all parties are in an attempt to restore calm in Gaza and Israel, and avoid another devastating full-scale war," the diplomatic source said.

  • An Israeli official didn't deny the call between the U.N. envoy and Israel national security adviser took place but claimed: "There are no cease fire talks. The operation in Gaza continues."
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken wrote on Twitter what seems to be a toughening of the U.S. position: "All parties need to deescalate tensions – the violence must end immediately"

Blinken spoke both the with Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry and Qatari foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani about the violence.

Between the lines: Both countries have pushed for calm in the region.

  • Blinken also spoke to the Saudi Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan and discussed the ongoing efforts to bring the current violence to an end.

Go deeper: Israel to continue Gaza operation, officials rule out cease-fire for now

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