Egypt the gateway to the Palestinian cause

Alaa Thabet
Saturday 22 May 2021

Egypt's immediate and serious support to the Palestinians was no surprise, especially for those who recognise the long standing and deeply rooted ties between the two peoples and their leaderships.

Indeed, Gaza is a different story because the Strip was under the Egyptian administration since 1948 and thousands of our youth were martyred there fighting in wars that were not only in defence of Palestine but also of our national security. We have realised long ago that Palestine, which is tightly connected with the Levant area, is one of the main gates to our security.

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's decision to open the Rafah border crossing for Palestinians injured during the Israelis attacks on the Strip stemmed from our responsibility towards the people in Gaza and the leading role that Egypt has played for decades in support of their cause.

Hala Zayed, the health minister, instructed that 11 hospitals be prepped to receive injured Palestinians. Six hospitals of the 11 are in Cairo, reserved for the most critical cases, with 900 beds and more than 3,600 medical staff. The primary location for receiving the wounded was Arish, where the Egyptian and Palestinian flags embraced hundreds of the medical staff who together chanted for the solidarity of the two peoples' aspirations for peace.

Furthermore, the president pledged $500 million for the reconstruction of Gaza and a special account for donation was thus opened throughout the country's banks to receive donations through the account of Tahya Misr.

Alongside these efforts to help civilian victims of the Israeli attack on the Strip, Cairo was seriously involved in negotiating a ceasefire. Intensive efforts were thus exerted and lines of communication with leaders of the Arab world, Islamic states, Europe, and the US were opened. Permanent members in the United Nations Security Council were also reached to issue a quick ceasefire resolution and find a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue based on previous UN resolutions with a Palestinian state established on the 1967 borders and East Jerusalem as its capital.

Unfortunately, Cairo’s efforts didn't receive enough media coverage due to the deteriorating situation in Gaza.

Egypt’s position is based on several factors, such as the urgent need to unify Palestinian factions, and resolving the dispute between Fatah and Hamas to lead them to form a legitimate, unified front, not only in the Palestinian territories but across the world. A coherent stand once developed between the two disputed factions will in turn unify their efforts in the West Bank and the Strip. Reconciliation efforts were also extended to include other Palestinian factions that finally succeeded in ensuring that a unified Palestinian stance is the real beginning to realise the Palestinian dream of a homeland.

There is also a need to convince world powers of the necessity of resolving the Palestinian issue to diffuse the dispute between the Palestinians and Israelis. The recognition of the Palestinians' right to establish their state is the most needed step now. The dispute between Palestinian factions was taken as a pretext by the Israelis to stall negotiations, waste valuable time, hamper efforts to settle the problem, eat up more and more of the occupied territories in the West Bank. The time wasted was used by Israel to enhance the construction of settlements to envelop Jerusalem as a Jewish city, thus depriving the Palestinians of their right to establish a state.

Moreover, the rising voices of Israel's right and radical parties which reject the Palestinians' sheer existence on their territories have added to the already tense situation.

However, Egypt stood firmly with the Palestinians and reiterated all the international resolutions issued by the United Nations in this regard. Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry expressed Cairo's stance during the last UN Security Council meeting in which he said the holy month of Ramadan saw many aggressive incidents and provocations against the Palestinians who were trying to pray at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Along these lines of provocations, an operation was launched to evacuate Arab residents from Sheikh Jarrah area at the eastern part of Jerusalem, further inflaming the situation and sparking the anger of millions of Arabs and Muslims across the world.

For Arabs and Muslims, the international stand since 1967 was more about marketing illusions about the Palestinians' rights that will never materialise. However, as Shoukry affirmed, there will be no peace in this region without a fair and just solution to the Palestinian cause. "Now we need not reinvent the wheel; the resolutions have been there for decades and the establishment of two states has always been the only possible and practical solution agreed upon by all parties involved."

Supporting the Palestinian issue has always been part of Cairo's responsibilities as a regional player with considerable weight in the international arena. Egypt has been siding by the legitimate rules and just regulations of the international law. Despite all odds, this country has always embraced all Palestinian factions and worked closely with them to unify their stands. Egypt has and always will be the refuge for all Arabs despite all differences and will work for their unity as a means to settle the issues of concern and to achieve progress and pursue development for their peoples.

Egyptians feel as much. All Egyptian parties expressed their solidarity to the Palestinian cause, such as the doctors union, industrialists and other popular organisations. The main vision and mission will always be for Egypt and the Egyptians to ignore the frictions at difficult times. They will always work towards unity and take the side of justice until all Arabs make their dreams come true.    

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