Egypt's persistent endeavours in Gaza

Mohamed Ibrahim Eldawiry , Wednesday 3 Jan 2024

Gaza
Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2024. Photo: AP

 

Any Egyptian initiative concerning the situation in the Gaza Strip is grounded not only in a proud historical legacy but also in a distinct present, objectively interpreting events and addressing them to further the interests of the Palestinian people. This framework dictates the stance of the Egyptian political leadership towards the Palestinian cause, spanning past decades and guiding future phases.

Since the beginning of the Israeli aggression against Gaza on 7 October, following Al-Aqsa Flood and Iron Swords operations, Egypt's position has not changed, expressing its adherence to certain principles, such as the unequivocal rejection of liquidating the Palestinian cause or displacing the population beyond their territories, notably to Sinai. 

Egypt staunchly opposes the policy of collective punishment and condemns the systematic operations of killing and destruction carried out by Israel against innocent civilians.

From the onset of the Israeli attacks, Egypt's emphasis has centred on securing a ceasefire or a more extended humanitarian truce, deeming this approach a tactical objective that lays the groundwork for positive advancements. Chief among these steps are increasing the delivery of humanitarian aid, finalizing a prisoner exchange deal, and subsequently progressing toward the strategic goal of revitalizing the peace process.

Egypt has proposed a phased approach to alter the current situation in Gaza, transitioning from the horrors of war to a temporary state of calm. Egypt stands out as the only country that presented a comprehensive vision for ending the war in the Strip. 

The president outlined key principles to resolve the Gaza crisis during the Cairo Peace Conference on 21 October. In my opinion, the greater value lies in Egypt's refusal to be merely a passive observer among observing countries. Egypt has chosen to engage in the political battle, safeguarding its national security, which it will not allow to be compromised. This proactive stance is a quest for solutions, recognizing that the losses in the Gaza Strip thus far exceed those suffered by the cause since 1948.

The Egyptian proposals undeniably serve as a valid foundation for negotiations among all involved parties. However, outright rejection or unconditional acceptance is neither logical nor anticipated. Rather, these proposals should be seen as a ray of light in an exceedingly dark tunnel. All parties must embark on a new phase to alter the current trajectory of the war.

In parallel, Egypt is communicating with all parties, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, to reach understandings that could serve as a constructive groundwork for a breakthrough. There is hope that the current situation in Gaza will gradually change, especially in alleviating the humanitarian disaster affecting the Palestinian people.

Despite Egypt's constructive efforts to foster a collectively agreed-upon vision for calm, challenges persist on two primary fronts. Firstly, US positions do not align with the goal of pacifying the situation in Gaza. Secondly, Israel's uncompromising stances, such as rejecting the return of displaced persons to northern Gaza and the expressed intention to occupy the area between the Strip and Egypt, known as the Philadelphi Corridor, introduce added complexity to the situation. These Israeli plans pose a significant risk of undermining any efforts towards a resolution.

Israel's positions demand serious consideration, particularly as it approaches the threshold of entering the third stage of the ground operation with a focus on the southern sector. 
In this stage, Israel is poised to adjust its military tactics by minimizing ground incursions and intensifying targeted airstrikes. The objective is to mitigate civilian casualties as much as possible, thereby averting additional regional and international criticism and aligning with certain US demands.

Despite the escalating complexity of the situation in Gaza, Egypt is unwavering in its commitment and will persist in its endeavours to attain calm. Egypt stands open to coordinating with all the parties involved, to change the dire conditions in the Strip, often overlooked by the world, to a humane situation where the Palestinians can attain their rights.

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