Israeli claims against Egypt a 'failed attempt to justify performance shortcomings': Foreign ministry

Amr Kandil , Monday 12 Feb 2024

The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs strongly rejected recent claims made by Israel’s extremist Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich, labelling them "completely unacceptable."

Palestinians wave their national flag and celebrate by a destroyed Israeli tank at the Gaza Strip fence east of Khan Younis southern Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023. AP


During his faction meeting in the Knesset, Smotrich claimed that Egypt "bears considerable responsibility" for the Hamas operation on 7 October, according to Haaretz on Monday.

He claimed that munitions had been supplied to Hamas "largely through Egypt."

"Such statements are unacceptable in every aspect, as Egypt has complete control over its territories," Spokesman of the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Abu Zeid said in a statement.

He added that no party is allowed to "involve the name of Egypt in any failed attempt to justify their shortcomings in performance."

During the Knesset meeting, Bezalel violently defended the Israeli plan to assault Rafah, the last safe refuge for Palestinians in Gaza, hosting much of the strip’s 2.3 million people.

Israel’s hardline finance minister slammed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to send Head of Mossad David Barnea to discuss a captive release deal with Egyptian, Qatari, and US officials amid the ongoing Gaza war.

He stressed that Barnea should “be sent to Rafah together with his men and the IDF soldiers to destroy, kill and annihilate the heads of the murderers and all the Nazi Hamas terrorists,” according to The Times of Israel.

The Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman called Bezalel’s remarks "irresponsible."

“It is regrettable and shameful that Israeli Finance Minister Smotrich continues to make irresponsible and inflammatory statements that reveal nothing but a thirst for killing, destruction, and sabotaging any attempt to contain the crisis in the Gaza Strip,” the spokesman stressed.

Fresh talks in Cairo


Egypt and Qatar have intensified efforts over the past weeks to reach a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in Gaza to allow the entry of humanitarian aid into the strip and facilitate the release of more than 100 captives still held by Hamas.

Cairo will reportedly host negotiations between Egyptian, Qatari, and US negotiators on Tuesday, the Israeli Walla news site quoted two Israeli officials as saying. Israeli negotiators are planning to join the talks but want Hamas to minimalize its demands, including a permanent ceasefire.

Egyptian Intelligence Minister Abbas Kamel, CIA Director William Burns, and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani are expected to attend alongside Israeli negotiators.

The Israeli delegation is set to include Barnea, Director of the Israeli Security Agency (Shabak) Ronen Bar, and Nitzan Alon, who is in charge of leading intelligence efforts to find the captives.

The Cairo talks are taking place two weeks after a meeting that included Kamel, Barnea, and Burns in Paris late in January. Hamas proposed a three-phase proposal for ceasefire following the Paris meeting, which Israel rejected as “delusional.”

Ceasefire efforts impeded


The efforts to reach a ceasefire, however, are facing hurdles with Israel planning to attack Rafah on the Gaza-Egypt border. Cairo has warned against the potential assault, calling for uniting all international and regional efforts to prevent the potential assault.

Hamas warned that any Israeli offensive in Rafah would threaten talks about the captive release.

On Sunday, the AP cited two Egyptian officials and a Western diplomat as saying that Egypt has threatened to suspend its peace treaty with Israel over the Rafah offensive. However, Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry emphasized today Egypt’s adherence to the 1979 agreement.

Al Qahera News quoted a “high-level” source as saying today that Egypt is “watching closely the situation in Palestine’s Rafah and is prepared to deal with any scenario.

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