Philadelphi Axis, Rafah Crossing, Peace Treaty, and Established Facts

Mohamed Ibrahim Eldawiry
Saturday 1 Jun 2024

Israel gave it (Philadelphi Axis) this name after occupying the Gaza Strip and stationed its military forces there. What is striking here is that Israel withdrew from the axis after withdrawing from Gaza in September 2005, which confirms that it is not part of its territory and does not fall within the area (D).

 

Egypt strongly rejects the recent Israeli measures in the city of Rafah, especially the occupation of the Rafah Crossing and the Philadelphi Axis, which are located on Palestinian territories. This has prompted us to close the Rafah Crossing from our side and stop the entry of aid through it in rejection of Egyptian dealing with an Israeli fait accompli authority. Regardless of the fact that these measures are not linked to the peace treaty between the two countries, these developments further complicate the chances of resolving the Gaza crisis and add further tension to the climate of bilateral relations.

There are a number of aspects that I must point out that are not related to military operations but to terms that were circulated during the war. It is important to clarify some of them and correct others based on the texts of the agreements, so that things do not get mixed up and false accusations are not directed against some parties.

I will start with what is called the "Camp David Accords", which include two main agreements that were signed on September 17, 1978 between President Sadat, President Carter, and Menachem Begin. The first agreement is called the "Framework for Peace in the Middle East" and is concerned with resolving the Palestinian issue and the Arab-Israeli conflict in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. The second is the "Framework Agreement for a Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel", which is a set of main principles that will be included in the peace treaty when it is signed later.

Six months after the signing of these two agreements, the three presidents signed the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty in Washington on March 26, 1979, which regulates all aspects of bilateral relations. Here we point to four points:

Point 1: The name "Gaza Strip" is mentioned in Article 2 of the treaty, which states that "the permanent border between Egypt and Israel is the internationally recognized border between Egypt and Palestine under the mandate, without prejudice to the status of the Gaza Strip (i.e., Gaza is outside any agreement between the two countries)."

Point 2: The security arrangements are mentioned in Article 4, which states in its fourth paragraph that "upon the request of either party, the security arrangements provided for shall be reviewed and amended by agreement of the parties (limited-arms zones in Egyptian and Israeli territories - United Nations forces and observers - replaced by peacekeeping forces (MFO)".

Point 3: Annex I to the treaty - the protocol on the Israeli withdrawal and security arrangements - makes it clear in Article 2 that there are four areas where the nature of armament and the form of the presence of international forces are determined. Three of these areas are inside Sinai (A - B - C) and the same applies to the Israeli territories, which will have one area, which is (D) and does not have tanks, artillery or missiles (the geographical depth of the two countries was taken into account).

Point 4: Area (D) is located inside Israeli territory on its border with Egypt and starts from east of Rafah, i.e. from a point outside the borders of the Gaza Strip and extends to Eilat, which means that Gaza does not fall within the area (D). This is confirmed by the fact that when Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it withdrew all its military forces from Gaza.

In connection with the security arrangements in Sinai, Egypt signed an agreement with Israel in September 2005 that provides for the deployment of a Border Guard Regiment in area (C) in Sinai to replace the police forces stipulated in the treaty to combat terrorism and smuggling, especially in the border area with Gaza. Egypt then succeeded with distinction in amending Article 4 of the treaty when it was agreed in the framework of the joint committee between the two countries in early November 2021 to increase the Border Guard forces and their capabilities to control and secure the borders in the northeastern strategic direction.

As for the Philadelphi Axis, it is a narrow strip of land located entirely within the Gaza Strip facing the border with Egypt and extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the Karni Crossing (14 km). Israel gave it this name after occupying the Gaza Strip and stationed its military forces there. What is striking here is that Israel withdrew from the axis after withdrawing from Gaza in September 2005, which confirms that it is not part of its territory and does not fall within the area (D). The Palestinian Authority forces controlled it after the Israeli withdrawal, and then the Hamas movement controlled it after its takeover of Gaza in mid-2007. The bottom line is that this Palestinian axis was not organized by any Egyptian, Israeli or Palestinian agreements.

 

Regarding the Rafah Crossing:
Clarification Points:

1. Israeli Control: Israel has controlled the Rafah Crossing since occupying Gaza after the 1967 War. The crossing operated normally under Israeli control for 38 years.

2. 2005 Crossing Agreement: Following Israel's withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, the "Crossing Agreement" was signed on November 15, 2005, between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. This agreement stipulated the presence of a third party to regulate the crossing's operations from the Palestinian side. Egypt was not a party to this agreement in any form.

3. Crossing Operations (2005-2007): The Rafah Crossing functioned smoothly from November 25, 2005, onwards, relying on three key elements: the Palestinian Authority's Crossing Authority, the Palestinian Presidential Guard, and the third party, the European Union Border Assistance Mission (EUBAM).

4. Hamas Takeover and Crossing Closure (2007): Following Hamas' takeover of Gaza in June 2007, EUBAM withdrew from the crossing, and the Crossing Authority and Presidential Guard were expelled. Consequently, the three agreed-upon elements were no longer present, leading to the closure of the crossing from both sides. However, Egypt continued to open the crossing exceptionally at intervals for the passage of Gaza residents.

5. 2011 Closure and Reopening: The crossing was closed after the January 2011 events due to security concerns. However, following the suppression of terrorism, it was reopened permanently. Egypt has not closed the crossing from its side since the start of the current war on Gaza, except when Israel occupied it during the past weeks. The crossing will not be reopened unless Israel withdraws from the Palestinian crossing.

 

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