The War in Gaza: Are there any solutions on the horizon?

Mohamed Ibrahim Eldawiry
Sunday 12 May 2024

I will begin this article with two questions that have occupied my mind for some time. The first is: has the international community, with its leaders and institutions, reached a stage of complete inability to stop the Israeli war of extermination in Gaza?

 

The second is: will the Egyptian state continue to bear the brunt of the burden of resolving the crisis in the face of a world that watches and condemns?

I hope that this introduction is not embarrassing to any party, as what prompted me to write it is the depth of the unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe suffered by more than two million citizens who are caught under a merciless millstone.

Unfortunately, this is the reality of a crisis that is worsening with no horizon in sight as to when and how it will end.

It is my duty, after more than seven months of war, to stand up and evaluate the previous period. Here, I will only point to some of the facts:

  • Egypt is the country most affected by this war and has made every possible effort to resolve the crisis, whether by putting forward the main phased vision that formed the basis for negotiations for all parties concerned, or by bearing the burden of delivering the largest possible amount of humanitarian aid to Gaza, amounting to more than 75 percent of the total aid.
  • Egypt was keen to ensure that the intensive negotiations that took place in Cairo recently would lead to a humanitarian truce that would pave the way for a comprehensive solution, whether it be the completion of a prisoner swap deal, the end of military operations, or reconstruction, and then pave the way for the resumption of the peace process.
  • The positions of the negotiating parties reflected the lack of sufficient will to get out of the quagmire of the crisis, and in my personal opinion, narrow agendas were the main factor in the failure to reach the desired truce.
  • Netanyahu is moving within the framework of an extremist government that cares only about its survival, even if the price is the complete destruction of the sector. As for the return of its kidnapped soldiers, it is not among its priorities.
  • The people of Gaza are the most affected by the results of this war, as they are subjected to the worst kinds of collective punishment, including displacement, destruction, killing, and famine.
  • All American pressures have failed to stop the war, and Netanyahu is still able to confront President Biden on the basis of his conviction that Washington will not continue to exert pressure in the face of an election year.
  • Egypt is the first line of defence against attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause by separating Gaza from the West Bank. Egypt insists on the need for the legitimate Palestinian Authority to play the main role in managing and governing the sector, especially with the approval of Hamas and the factions, so that the agreed-upon Palestinian government will be the one that governs Gaza, not Hamas.

It is clear that Netanyahu has become the only man in Tel Aviv who controls and directs the decision-making. He does so as he pleases and does not care about internal and external pressures. He clings to the continuation of operations until their end, which recently extended to the east of the Palestinian city of Rafah. The Israeli army has taken complete control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing and moved some forces within part of the Philadelphi Corridor, which lies entirely within the Palestinian territories.

This move is part of a comprehensive plan for Rafah to eliminate the remnants of Hamas's military capabilities, as it claims. Israel will implement that plan in full at a time that it sees fit, especially after the evacuation of the residents of this area, who have already begun to evacuate gradually towards the centre of the strip, fleeing the hell of death and hunger.

There are two main points that I must point out as we talk about the latest developments and the presence of the Israeli army in the Rafah area near the Egyptian border.

The first is that Israel knows full well that Egypt will not tolerate any infringement on its national security and that any transgression against Egyptian territory will be met with an appropriate response.

The second point is that Egypt is still committed to all the provisions of the peace treaty signed 45 years ago, which we achieved after the victory of October 1973, as it serves the interests of both parties. Hence, we demand that Israel in return respect all its commitments under the treaty and avoid violating any of its provisions.

The question that occupies the world is how and when will the war stop? Despite the difficulty of answering this question, I believe – due to the time factor – that there is a possibility of achieving a breakthrough in connection with the responsibilities of the following four parties:

Egypt: There is a need not to allow these strenuous efforts to fail, and we must resume them in the coming days, as stalling in negotiations is natural. It is certain that without Egypt, no efforts will succeed, with all due respect and appreciation for the efforts of the other parties. There is no objection to putting forward new proposals that allow for the movement of the current tense situation, including, for example, an initial agreement on a ceasefire for a limited period, and we begin to implement it on the ground, then we resume negotiations in the shadow of this temporary ceasefire.

Israel: It is important to stop the Rafah operation and the war of extermination, and to give an opportunity to complete an acceptable deal and to make some concessions from some of the hard-line positions. This is the only way to recover the kidnapped soldiers. 

Hamas: It is imperative to take courageous decisions that lead to a stop to the daily massacres inflicted upon more than two million unarmed citizens who are suffering a devastating humanitarian catastrophe. Such decisions elevate the status of the resistance and do not diminish it.

The United States: The need to continue pressure on Netanyahu and not to abandon this role in the hope that it will bear fruit in the future.

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