Egyptian lawyers file suit to ban settling of foreign nationals in Sinai

Hadeer El-Mahdawy , Saturday 18 Feb 2017

Malek Adly
Rights lawyer Malek Adly (Photo: ahram Hebdo)

Human rights lawyer Khaled Ali announced on Saturday that he, along with other lawyers including Tarek El-Awady, Malek Adly, has filed a case in an administrative court calling for the barring of “foreign settlements” in Sinai.

Ali said on his Facebook page that the suit aims to combat what he says are plans to settle Palestinians in Sinai.

The suit comes days after Israeli minister Ayoub Kara said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump would discuss an alleged proposal President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to establish a Palestinian state in Gaza and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.

Netanyahu later denied Kara’s claims, saying that “this idea was not even a point of discussion.”

Ali said he is filing the lawsuit in order to ensure the integrity of Egypt given the “intentions by some” to settle Palestinians in Sinai.

Ali said that former president Hosni Mubarak issued two decrees in 2002 and 2004 approving an agreement with the Union for the Mediterranean regarding the settlement of citizens from a “third nation” in Egyptian lands.

Ali’s colleague lawyer Malek Adly told Ahram Online that this shows that “the lawsuit calls for the cancellation of Mubarak's decrees and calling on Egypt's president to issue a decree prohibiting the settlement of any foreign nationals in Sinai.” 

Adly added that since there is no transparency in Egyptian government policy, as evidenced by the Tiran and Sanafir agreement, “we need to take precautionary actions using the tools at our disposal as lawyers.”

“We welcome any Palestinian refugees, but not in a border area of national security concern, and because this does not comply with Egypt’s historical position supporting the two state solution and the preservation of the Palestinian identity,” Adly said, adding that such a plan “would be solving the Israeli problem, and not the Palestinian one.”

On Friday, Egypt’s foreign ministry dismissed any reports of a proposal to establish a Palestinian state in Sinai, saying the idea “has never been a point of discussion between any Egyptian and foreign officials.”

In a statement to the privately-owned TV channel DMC late on Thursday, ministry spokesman Ahmed Abu Zeid said that the Sinai Peninsula is sovereign Egyptian territory.

The spokesman added that Egypt’s stance on the two-state solution is “clear and known to all parties,” stressing that Cairo believes the two-state solution is the basis of the current international consensus, whether among the UN’s Security Council or the Quartet on the Middle East (the EU, the UN, Russia, and the US).

“[Egypt’s position] goes in line with the aspirations of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state on their own land with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Abu Zeid said, highlighting that “the negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis is what will determine the agreement.”

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