Lapid discusses Israeli hostages held in Gaza with Egyptian counterpart

Lapid talks about return of Israeli hostages, while Egyptian counterpart floats ideas to break “stalemate” in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, in Brussels, Belgium on Sunday, discussing a wide range of topics including freeing Israeli hostages that are currently held by terror groups in the Gaza Strip.

“As part of my trip to the European Union, I met tonight with…Shoukry,” Lapid wrote on Twitter.

“At the meeting we discussed various security and political issues. I raised the issue of prisoners and missing persons in the Gaza Strip and discussed ways to strengthen the security of the State of Israel in the face of terrorist threats and a number of options regarding humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.”

“During his visit to Brussels, FM Sameh Shoukry…stresse[d] the need to resolve the current stalemate between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, leading to a just and comprehensive peace negotiations,” read a Twitter statement from Egypt’s Foreign Ministry.

Egypt has long served as an intermediary between the Jewish State and Hamas, brokering ceasefire agreements and serving as the location from which kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was returned to Israel after a 2011 prisoner swap.

According to Hebrew-language media reports, Lapid discussed the return of the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed in the Strip during 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.

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Lapid also reportedly brought up Israeli hostages Hisham al-Sayed, a Bedouin-Israeli, and Avera Mengistu, an Ethiopian-Israeli, who are believed to still be alive and are being held in the Strip.

Both men are mentally ill and crossed into Gaza of their own accord.

Israel has been preventing some $30 million in Qatari aid from entering the Strip for fear it will be used by Hamas for terror rather than for rebuilding after May 2021’s Operation Guardian of the Walls.

In the hour-long meeting, Shoukry and Lapid also discussed strategies to ensure that the money will be used for humanitarian purposes.