Egypt calls on Netherlands to push for immediate ceasefire in Gaza war: Sisi to Dutch PM Rutte

Ahram Online , Wednesday 13 Mar 2024

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi repeated on Wednesday Egypt’s warning against a possible Israeli ground operation in Palestinian Rafah and called on the Netherlands to push for an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza war.

Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi   Mark Rutte
Egypt s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte during their meeting on Wednesday 13 March, 2024. Photo courtesy of Egyptian Presidential spokesman.


In a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in Cairo, President El-Sisi said: “Egypt has warned against Israeli plans to launch a ground military operation in the Palestinian city of Rafah, endangering the lives of over 1.5 million displaced individuals," according to a statement released by the Spokesperson for the Egyptian Presidency Ahmed Fahmy.

"Israel bears the responsibility to protect Palestinians in Gaza according to international law," noted El-Sisi.

He added that Egypt has also repeatedly warned against Israeli plans to make life in Gaza untenable.

The Egyptian President said his talks with Rutte focused on the situation in the region and the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

He reiterated the urgent need for an immediate ceasefire and for Israel to cease its hostile actions.

“I called upon the Dutch Prime Minister to exert sincere efforts towards these ends, considering them fundamental conditions for ending the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza and de-escalating tensions throughout the region.”

He noted that the actions of the “occupying power towards civilians in Gaza” constitute a grave violation of international law and humanitarian principles.

The Egyptian President also said that the decision of some countries to suspend their contributions to UNRWA contradicts all humanitarian norms and values, highlighting once again the double standards in dealing with Palestinian rights.

“Punishing an entire UN agency due to allegations against some of its employees is unjustifiable, especially considering UNRWA's exclusive role in receiving and distributing aid in Gaza, a role that must not be undermined,” added the President.

Two-state solution

El-Sisi also slammed the Israeli policies in the occupied West Bank.

“It is no secret that what is happening in Gaza, alongside the obstructive policies in the West Bank, constitutes a hindrance to the lives of Palestinians, whether through settler violence, demolitions, evictions, military incursions, land seizures, or settlement activities, all of which perpetuate the occupation,” he said.

The Egyptian President emphasized that the suffering of the Palestinian people across the occupied Palestinian territories will only end through recognizing the State of Palestine, granting it full membership in the United Nations, and working towards implementing a two-state solution based on international references.

“Procrastination in resolving this issue exposes the region and the world to the risk of instability,” he stated.

For his part, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte reiterated his country's condemnation of the lack of a political solution to the Palestinian crisis, emphasizing the necessity of establishing an independent Palestinian state living alongside Israel.

Rutte, who is visiting Egypt and Israel on Wednesday, stressed that Israel's planned attack on the Palestinian city of Rafah would result in a "humanitarian catastrophe."

He stated that he had spoken with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to persuade him to refrain from this step, noting that he remains in constant contact to discuss the situation in the Middle East.

Regarding the situation in the Red Sea, Rutte expressed concern, noting that attacks on ships cause significant damage to maritime trade.

He highlighted the role of "missions sent by the United States and other countries" to provide safe passage in this vital shipping route.

Furthermore, Rutte said his meeting on Wednesday with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi confirmed the close relationship between Egypt and the Netherlands and that his visit to Egypt constitutes an opportunity to deepen relations between the two countries and between Egypt and the European Union.

The Dutch PM also affirmed that Egypt is a close partner in combating irregular migration and other issues and highlighted potential opportunities for cooperation between Egypt and the Netherlands in promoting the transition to green energy and hydrogen energy.

He noted that a summit on hydrogen is scheduled for May and hoped it would be a success.

Irregular migration and refugees

El-Sisi and Rutte also discussed irregular migration and refugees durin g their meeting.

“Egypt highlighted its efforts in hosting over 9 million guests who enjoy public services like Egyptian citizens,” El-Sisi said, adding that this underscored the necessity of enhancing stability in the region to combat irregular migration and reduce the flux of refugees.

El-Sisi stated that both leaders underscored the importance of Egypt as a reliable partner for the European Union in combating irregular migration and terrorism and supporting regional security and stability.

Trade relations

The President said he agreed with the Dutch PM on the potential to increase trade volume between the two countries and attract more direct Dutch investments in the Egyptian market, particularly in renewable and green energy.

According to the State Information Service (SIS), the Netherlands ranks among the top countries with foreign investments in Egypt, with a total investment of about $ 4.7 billion in 2022 distributed over 752 projects.

The trade volume between the two countries reached approximately $1.655 billion in 2021.

Egypt's most important exports to the Netherlands include vegetables, fruits, grains, petroleum and its derivatives, textiles, carpets, ready-made garments, and iron and its products.

On the other hand, the Netherlands mainly exports meat, fish, dairy products, chemicals, petrochemicals, oils, fertilizers, electrical appliances, and medical devices to Egypt.

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