Egypt firmly opposes the displacement of Palestinian people and has issued warnings to both Israel and the United States regarding this matter.
The Egyptian position has clarified much of the debate and misconceptions about the future of the Gaza Strip, which became prominent following the 7 October attack by Hamas on Israeli settlements. Echoing Egypt’s firm stance in Libya, the “four No’s” were articulated: no to the displacement of Palestinians, no to Israeli authority or occupation of Gaza, no to Egypt managing the Gaza Strip, and no to international presence in Gaza.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi personally conveyed these “No’s” to CIA Director William Burns. Furthermore, Egypt has proposed its historical vision for resolving the crisis: the two-state solution. As the conflict in the Gaza Strip entered its third month, discussions intensified about Gaza’s post-war future, including the possibility of ending Hamas’s rule and potentially replacing it with the Palestinian Authority. It is clear that the path to ending this ongoing conflict starts with an agreement on who will ensure Gaza’s stability post-war. Ultimately, there must be a responsible entity to oversee the region and manage the lives of its inhabitants. The top priority for this administration, whatever it may be called, is to prevent a recurrence of the events of 7 October.
There are significant challenges if the Palestinian Authority is to assume responsibility for the Gaza Strip, primarily due to its lack of complete control over the West Bank, compounded by the lack of geographical connectivity between the West Bank and Gaza. Moreover, the concept of an independent Palestinian state is contentious and uncertain, as it lacks the essential elements of sovereignty. Without control over industry, agriculture, or commerce to fund state programs, the Palestinian Authority’s ability to operate independently is limited. Nearly all services in both the West Bank and Gaza, including water, electricity, and gas, are provided by Israel. The West Bank is entirely surrounded by Israel, except for its eastern border with Jordan, making its reliance on Israel unavoidable.
Egypt’s involvement in Gaza is unequivocally rejected by Cairo, as resistance efforts will persist, and Egypt refuses to suppress the resistance within the Strip. Efforts to quell the resistance are seen as antagonistic towards the Palestinian people and an infringement on their right to reclaim their land. Israel’s security is contingent upon Palestinians securing their rights as recognized by international law, notably Resolutions 242, 191, and 181.
It is noteworthy that Egypt and the United States have reached a consensus to oppose Israeli presence in the Gaza Strip. The US stance against Israel’s presence in Gaza signifies a significant shift in American policy, despite its strong support for Israel. For Egypt, the Israeli presence is a national security threat, and its rejection is rooted in the concern over potential forced displacement from Gaza.
Cairo acknowledges that while the Palestinian resistance may not be able to liberate their land entirely, it has the means to challenge the enemy. Even if Hamas’s leadership is impacted post-conflict, its grassroots presence will persist, continuing to cause disruptions. The Palestinians’ struggle for freedom and independence is a cause that necessitates support. The resolution to the ongoing crisis starts with the acknowledgment and granting of Palestinian rights.
The Egyptian stance on the Palestinian issue and the current crisis is steadfast and foundational, having been declared early on. Cairo’s commitment lies in safeguarding the Palestinian people within their territory, upholding their right to self-determination and liberation. Israel is held accountable for undermining the autonomy framework established for Gaza and the West Bank during the Oslo Accords.
The Cairo Peace Summit, convened by Egypt following Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip, aimed to reinforce Egypt’s unwavering position. Egypt also extended a peace message in multiple languages to the global community, calling for an end to the bloodshed on Palestinian soil and the cessation of hostilities that Israel has waged against innocent civilians, including children and women. The goal is to bolster the Palestinian cause and work towards a comprehensive resolution.
In recent challenging times, Egypt has led with prudent diplomacy, a resolute voice, and a firm stance. It spearheaded the call for humanitarian aid delivery to the besieged Palestinians suffering from starvation and dehydration, ultimately succeeding as aid began flowing into Gaza. Egypt was the first to advocate for a ceasefire and continues to promote the initiation of a political process towards a two-state solution, aspiring for peace across the region after 75 years of conflict. The days ahead are expected to bring further relief, guided by Egypt’s vision and the legitimate “Four No’s,” which now serve as a roadmap to end this humanitarian crisis.
Dr. Hatem Sadek: Professor at Helwan University