Egypt, France stress urgency of ceasefire in Israel's war on Gaza

Mohamed Hamouda , Sunday 4 Feb 2024

Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s foreign minister, and his French counterpart Stéphane Séjourné stressed the urgent need for a ceasefire in Gaza and facilitating the entry of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in the strip, during a press conference on Sunday in Cairo.

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A still photo of a press conference held between Egypt s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and his French counterpart St phane S journ in Cairo on Sunday

 

Both ministers unequivocally reiterated their rejection of any forced displacement of Palestinians and issued a stern warning against the further escalation of the conflict in the region.

Shoukry stressed the necessity to work to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to achieve stability for the two peoples and the rest of the region.

"A specific timeframe should be set for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state," Shoukry said, stressing that the Palestinian cause should be addressed through a comprehensive political framework.

Séjourné echoed Shoukry's statements emphasizing the need for a two-state solution, with Palestinians and Israelis living peacefully side by side.

However, recognition of the Palestinian state, he said, comes at the end of the political process that will follow the release of the Israeli captives and a permanent ceasefire.

“We will push in this direction and I will speak about this issue in Israel,” he confirmed.

Meanwhile, Shoukry has warned of the danger of the conflict spreading in the region unless a ceasefire is reached in Gaza.

The French FM emphasized France’s understanding of Egypt’s concerns regarding the conflict expansion into the region.

“We also understand the concerns of the ongoing disruptions in the region and the Red Sea,” Séjourné said.

He also commended Egypt’s efforts in establishing the logistic platform in Arish to receive humanitarian aid to Gaza. France has provided 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid and medical materials to Gaza, he noted.

Shoukry, noting the strong relationship between Egypt and France, affirmed that the two countries share a common vision on international issues and a common desire to support and develop bilateral relations.

He also praised the close military and security relationships with France and the common vision between the two countries regarding the necessity of eliminating terrorism.

Egypt is a big country and a key partner to France which plays an effective role in finding a solution to the conflict, Séjourné stated. Egypt can depend on France’s full support and France is ready to continue coordination with Egypt, he added.

Egypt marked the first leg of Séjourné’s inaugural visit to the region since assuming office on 11 January, with subsequent stops planned in Jordan, Israel, the occupied West Bank, and Lebanon.

The trip aimed at working towards a ceasefire, releasing the captives, and convincing the parties to reopen a political perspective, Séjourné’s spokesperson Christophe Lemoine said on Friday.

Meeting El-Sisi
 

Séjourné, during his visit, also met with President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi on Sunday afternoon.

The Egyptian Presidential Spokesman Ahmed Fahmy highlighted the meeting's focus on bilateral relations, emphasizing the imperative of ongoing extensive cooperation between the two countries.

Moreover, they discussed the situation in Gaza, reviewing Egypt’s persistent efforts to reach a ceasefire and facilitate humanitarian aid access in the besieged Gaza Strip to end the severe crisis that Gazans have been enduring, Fahmy added.

Séjourné’s visit coincides with the five-day Middle East tour of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, which starts on Sunday and includes Israel, the occupied West Bank, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Qatar.

These diligent diplomatic efforts unfold against the backdrop of the onslaught the Palestinians have been going through due to the Israeli military aggression since 7 October.

The death toll of Palestinians killed by Israel in Gaza has risen to at least 27,365 in a more-than-four-month war, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

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