Palestinian chief peace negotiator Saeb Erekat described earlier statements by an Israeli minister as “silly.” Israeli minister Ayoub Kara claimed that Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US president Donald Trump will discuss a plan to establish a Palestinian state in Gaza and the Sinai Peninsula away from the West Bank.
Erekat noted in a press conference held in the city of Jericho, in the Palestinian territories, that considering Sinai Peninsula as an alternative to the Palestinian territories is “ridiculous” as Sinai is Egyptian, and Palestine refuses any consideration of that idea.
He further asked the US administration to urge Israel to suspend settlement operations inside the Palestinian territories.
The statements from the Israeli minister stirred massive controversy and outrage on Egypt’s social media outlets as he [Kara] released these statements through his Twitter account.
Kara added that Netanyahu agreed with him regarding the plan and that he will open discussions with Trump on it.
In response to the statements from the Israeli minister, former Egyptian foreign affairs minister Mohammed Al-Orabi asserted to Daily News Egypt on Wednesday that these statements are meaningless and have nothing to do with reality.
“These statements should not be considered important by the officials in Egypt’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as it does not have anything to do with reality and would be refused by Egypt’s authorities and the international community if they were proposed,” Al-Orabi said.
Daily News Egypt made several attempts to reach Egypt’s foreign ministry’s official spokesperson to comment on the Israeli minister’s statement; however, he could not be reached.
While on the ground in the Sinai Peninsula, army forces affiliated with the third field army continued a sweeping operation that started three weeks ago against militants located in central Sinai, which includes operations around Mount Halal, which resulted in the arrest of eight militants, the army’s official spokesperson said in a statement.
A number of improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and a sniper rifle have also been found while arresting the militants. Moreover, communication devices and a large amount of money were seized during the operation, it noted.
The forces also managed to destroy two storages that included a number of weapons, IEDs, and drugs prepared for distribution. Additionally, the forces managed to destroy a car bomb prepared to target security forces and other four-wheeled vehicles used by militants.
“The sweeping operation also resulted in the destruction of three motorbikes and a number of buildings and huts that were used by the militants,” the statement concluded.
Since 2013, state security forces, represented by both the army and the police, have been engaged in violent clashes with “Sinai Province,” previously known as Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis. In 2014, the group declared its affiliation to IS and has launched deadly attacks on army and police checkpoints.
Over the course of the last two years, the Egyptian armed forces have launched counterattacks against militant stationing points across the Sinai Peninsula where the group is based, particularly in the cities of Sheikh Zuweid, Rafah, and Al-Arish.