Sisi says Palestinians must 'remain on their land', contacts ongoing for de-escalation in Gaza war

Ahram Online , Thursday 12 Oct 2023

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said Thursday that the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip must stay steadfast and "remain on their land," warning of "the liquidation" of the Palestinian cause.

Screenshot: Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi speaking during the graduation ceremony of a new batch of military cadets at the Military Academy on Thursday, 12 October 2023.

"Of course, we are sympathetic, but we deal rationally with the issue to achieve peace, the cost of which is not too high," El-Sisi added.

"We did not cause a problem for anyone, but rather … we are hosting nine million guests from many countries who came to Egypt for security, safety, and peace." 

The matter is "different" in Gaza as the danger there is the "liquidation" of  this cause, he said.

The Palestinian cause is the issue of all Arabs, the president affirmed, adding that Egypt will exert "utmost" efforts to alleviate the burden endured by the Palestinians.  

Egyptian security sources warned that some parties and forces plan to forcibly displace Palestinians from their land amid the Israeli retaliation for Hamas's Saturday surprise attack.

"Egypt is exerting great efforts to contain the escalation and ongoing fighting and alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people in the strip," El-Sisi asserted.

"Our contacts with the leaders and officials never cease," he said, stressing that Egypt spares no effort to coordinate with "its Arab brothers and friends" to resolve the current crisis.  

"We are keen that humanitarian and medical aid arrives in the [Gaza] Strip," the president affirmed.  

El-Sisi's remarks came as part of his speech at the Military Academy during the graduation ceremony of a new batch of military cadets. 

The Egyptian foreign ministry stressed that contrary to inaccurate information, the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip has not been closed since the onset of the current crisis.

However, vital infrastructure on the Palestinian side of the border crossing has suffered damage due to recurrent Israeli airstrikes, disrupting its regular operation, the foreign ministry noted.

Egypt has designated North Sinai's El-Arish International Airport as a receiving point for international humanitarian assistance to be delivered to Gaza -- currently under a complete blockade by Israel.

A call for upholding voice of reason

In his speech, El-Sisi called for upholding the voice of reason and wisdom and exercising the highest degree of self-restraint to contain the current escalation in Gaza.

El-Sisi urged "getting civilians, children and women out of the cycle of brutal revenge."

He also stressed the importance of returning to the path of negotiations.  

Egypt, El-Sisi asserted, is ready to "harness all its capabilities and efforts toward mediation in coordination with all international and regional partners without restrictions or conditions."

He warned against the "relentless efforts by multiple parties" to derail the Palestinian issue so that it strays off the path to achieving a just peace based on the principles of the Oslo Accords, the Arab Peace Initiative, and the resolutions of international legitimacy." 

These parties want, instead, to escalate the situation, leading to "zero-sum conflicts where there is no winner or loser," added El-Sisi.  

Peace is a strategic choice for Egypt, said the president, adding that such an approach "makes it incumbent upon Egypt not to abandon our brothers in beloved Palestine and to help them retain their capabilities and their legitimate rights."

El-Sisi strongly urged all parties to protect the civilians on both sides. He also called on the parties to refrain from exacerbating the humanitarian situation and carrying out the policies of collective punishment, siege, starvation, and displacement.

He stressed the importance of immediately allowing humanitarian assistance to be delivered to the Palestinian people, urging the international community to shoulder its responsibilities towards them.    

"It is crucial to spare the innocent the consequences of the military conflict," El-Sisi affirmed.

A Message to Egyptians

El-Sisi urged Egyptians to contemplate the instability surrounding the country from its eastern, western, and southern borders.

"Egypt will remain safe, and though there may be difficulties and challenges ahead, we must remain steadfast and optimistic," he stressed. 

The president said the country has faced tough challenges since 2011, especially concerning the cost of living, stressing that Egyptians must understand that "there is a huge difference between living costs, wasting lives, and ruining countries."

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