Madbouli addressing parliament on Tuesday
“Egypt will take all the needed measures necessary to protect its borders, including firm reaction against any scenario trying to resettle Palestinians into Sinai,” Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli told members of parliament on Tuesday.
Madbouli added that Egypt had sent messages to several world leaders warning of the escalation of the war in Palestine and its impact on regional stability.
The statements, reports Gamal Essam El-Din, came at a parliamentary session held to answer questions from 16 MPs about Egypt’s stance on calls to host Palestinians in Sinai.
Egypt has come under economic and political pressure to allow the displacement of Palestinians in Gaza to Sinai. But, Madbouli said, Egypt firmly stands against this pressure because this scenario is a big threat to its national security and sovereign interests and could mean the liquidation of the Palestinian cause.
“I have come today to the House of Representatives to reassure all Egyptians that all the state’s institutions, the president, the government, and Armed Forces are well aware of conspiracies aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause and destabilising Egypt’s national security and we will never allow these two scenarios to happen.”
Madbouli was also keen to stress that Egypt had always been loyal to its commitments under the Peace Treaty with Israel since 1979. “But the war in Gaza is a big threat to this treaty, and Israeli leaders should be aware of this,” Madbouli said.
He, however, said no military force will be able to protect Sinai from foreign conspiracies without developing it. “We should achieve comprehensive development in Sinai, and to fulfil this objective we are doing our best to resettle eight million Egyptians into the peninsula by the year 2050,” Madbouli said, indicating that the state’s vision towards developing Sinai is also based on setting up national projects and strengthening the Egyptian army to develop and defend the peninsula.
Madbouli said that since the war erupted in Gaza on 7 October, Egypt has been among the first countries to extend humanitarian aid to the Palestinians. “What Egypt has provided to Gaza is four times the aid provided by 30 countries. Between 7 October and 19 November Egypt provided 11,200 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza.”
According to Madbouli, Egypt has not closed the Rafah crossing with Gaza since the war erupted on 7 October. “We did not shut down this crossing one moment and rumours that it is closed are part of the fourth generation wars and hostile media campaigns targeting Egypt,” said Madbouli.
He explained that there are two crossings: the Egyptian Rafah crossing and the Palestinian Rafah crossing, and it is the latter that is constantly targeted by Israeli air strikes to obstruct the entry of aid into Gaza and the exiting of the injured. “Egypt is keen to rehabilitate the Egyptian Rafah crossing, but as you see it is Israel that is obstructing the delivery of aid and assistance to the Gaza Strip.”
President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi is exerting efforts on all fronts to find a solution to the Palestinian cause, Madbouli said, noting that Egypt held the Cairo peace summit to push for a ceasefire, denounce Israel’s war on Gaza, and declare its rejection of the forcible displacement of Palestinians. He said the solution of the Palestinian cause will never be at the expense of Egypt.
In his speech at the emergency Arab summit in Riyadh, President Al-Sisi declared Egypt’s rejection of Israel’s collective punishment policies and highlighted its historical role in supporting the Palestinians and the creation of their independent state, the prime minister said.
Madbouli said Egypt is aware that the Palestinians fully understand that Egypt’s positions serve their interests and that Egypt will never allow the liquidation of this cause.
Madbouli’s statement came in response to 16 questions posed by both opposition and pro-government MPs. Nasserist opposition and journalist MP Mustafa Bakri said a parliamentary committee should be formed to see whether the 1979 Peace Treaty with Israel should be scrapped. Bakri also called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador in Cairo.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 23 November, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly