An flare fired by Israeli forces lights the sky above the town of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip early on May 16, 2021. AFP
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Sunday Egypt will spare no effort to reach Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire amid deadly confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians.
Speaking online to the UN Security Council, Shoukry stressed the need for an immediate ceasefire in the Palestinian territories and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital.
The council, chaired by China, is meeting on Sunday in New York in an attempt to de-escalate the heaviest military confrontation between Israel and the Palestinians in seven years.
Shoukry said that the two-state solution is still the only viable option to end the ongoing tension.
The almost week-long Palestinian-Israeli escalation has been deemed the most serious since 2014 as Hamas fired rockets at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in retaliation for hostilities by Israeli police against Palestinian protesters near Al-Aqsa Mosque, Israeli air strikes targeting civilian buildings in the Gaza Strip, and most importantly the Israeli eviction of Palestinians from East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.
The action-reaction loop, which initially started on Monday, brought the death toll in Palestine to 202 – 21 in the West Bank and 181 in Gaza, including 52 children and 31 women – health officials said, while Israel has reported 10 dead.
As many as 5,588 Palestinians – 1,225 in Gaza and 4,363 in the West Bank – have been injured since Monday as a result of the violent Israeli aggression, according to official Palestinian numbers.
The top Egyptian diplomat affirmed that 42 years after the peace process was launched, Israel has not offered anything.
The Palestinian cause has witnessed successive setbacks throughout its history, which brought us to the current scene. Forced displacement has become a systematic Israeli policy in the West Bank and Jerusalem, the foreign minister said.
Israel's recent practices against the Palestinians have not been limited to forced displacement and annexation activities in the occupied territories in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, but reached the point of “violating the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan,” Shoukry said in reference to the Israeli violent practices in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
“We have witnessed unprecedented Israeli provocations in the occupied Jerusalem, and the Israeli occupation did not observe the sanctity of the holy month of Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr, which angered millions around the world,” he added.
Shoukry also stressed that peace in the Middle East cannot be achieved without a just solution to the Palestinian cause.
The Israeli-Palestinian confrontation mounted when Israel repeated on Saturday what it did last week of targeting civilian buildings in Gaza – one of which was a 14-story Al-Shorouk Tower in Gaza that was flatten by Israeli jets – and was a trigger behind the ignition of the situation when Tel Aviv totally destroyed a 12-storey building in the Palestinian strip, called Al-Jalaa tower, which had housed the U.S. Associated Press and Qatar-based Al Jazeera media operations as well as various news agencies.
While the Israeli military said the Al-Jala building was a legitimate military target for housing Hamas military offices, the AP condemned the attack asking Israel to put forward evidence.
"We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building," the AP said in a statement.
Shoukry, moreover, noted during his speech that Egypt has sought from the outset of current tensions, through extensive communications, to establish an immediate ceasefire and to revive serious negotiations.
Since early last week, Egypt has been politically mediating in an attempt to reach a ceasefire. An Egyptian delegation – which met Tel Aviv and Hamas officials last week – has proposed a one-year truce for both sides that is to be monitored and coordinated by Cairo.
The Cairo proposal, however, was rejected by Tel Aviv.
Over the past years, Cairo has been in talks with several Western parties to push forward the frozen Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In February 2020, Egypt, Jordan, France, and Germany formed the quartet committee on the sidelines of the Munich summit with the aim of reviving the halted negotiations.
The Munich committee has so far held four meetings, the latest of which was hosted by Cairo in February, where the foreign ministers of the four countries forged 11 provisions detailed in a joint statement outlining the endeavours to revive the peace process.