Egypt, Belgium: Halting Gaza war is urgent priority to ensure humanitarian aid access

Merna Hesham , Sunday 29 Oct 2023

Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry and his Belgian counterpart Hadja Lahbib agreed on the urgent priority of concerted international efforts to halt the ongoing war in the Gaza Strip to ensure humanitarian aid access.

Egypt FM Sameh Shoukry and Hadja Lahbib, Belgium s Minister of Foreign Affairs meeting on Sunday. Photo courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


In a meeting in Cairo on Sunday, Shoukry affirmed the need for halting the war and protecting civilians through international efforts built on world leaders’ discussions during the Cairo Summit for Peace, held on 21 October, the Egyptian ministry said in a statement.

Shoukry told Lahbib that Egypt appreciates Belgium’s support for the recent Arab resolution approved by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), confirming that voting in favour of the decision means supporting peace, stopping the bloodshed, and protecting civilians, the statement stated.

The UNGA adopted the nonbinding resolution, calling for a “humanitarian truce” that would lead to a cessation of the Israeli war in the strip by a vote of 120-14 with 45 abstentions.

Shoukry warned of the dangers of Israeli ground operations expansion and the dire humanitarian and security consequences of Israel’s escalatory policies against Palestinians in Gaza, especially the continuous bombing, siege, and forced displacement policies.

He stressed Egypt’s categorical rejection of these practices, which violate the provisions of international humanitarian law, as well as attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause at the expense of the countries of the region.

Lahbib revealed Belgium’s full awareness of the magnitude of the challenges facing Egypt due to this conflict, expressing her keenness to be briefed on Egypt's vision regarding ways to support the Palestinian cause and revive the peace process.

She also hailed Egypt’s pioneering efforts to achieve peace in the region and its long experience supporting mediation efforts between the Palestinian and Israeli sides.

Coordination with Saudi Arabia, UK

Shoukry also discussed the risk posed by the Israeli military operations expansion in Gaza in phone calls on Saturday with Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Faisal bin Farhan and British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly.

In both calls, Shoukry reiterated the necessity for an immediate humanitarian truce as well as unimpeded access to aid and civilian protection.

Shoukry affirmed to Cleverly the need to remove obstacles that hinder aid delivery and the evacuation of third-country nationals, emphasizing that Egypt should not be blamed for these hurdles.

The Israeli strikes against the strip over the past three weeks have killed more than 8,000 Palestinians and injured more than 20,000, resulting in deteriorated humanitarian and health conditions in Gaza and rendering many hospitals out of service.

On Saturday, Shoukry warned of the unprecedented humanitarian and security risks resulting from a ground invasion of the strip.

The ministry also called out the Israeli government for violating the UNGA’s resolution.

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