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Egypt at the heart of the revival of the peace process between Israel and Palestine

Written by Frédéric Dubessy on Tuesday, September 14th 2021 à 16:10 | Read 412 times

Egypt at the heart of the revival of the peace process between Israel and Palestine
ISRAEL / EGYPT / PALESTINE. Naftali Bennett came to Sharm el-Sheikh to discuss with Abdel Fattah al-Sissi on Monday 13 September 2021. This meeting is an event. We must go back to January 2011, and the meeting between Benyamin Netanyahu and Hosni Mubarak, to find the precedent of an Israeli Prime Minister officially visiting Egypt.

According to a statement from the Egyptian presidency, "a session of bilateral talks took place between the two sides, during which the latest developments in bilateral relations in various fields were discussed. They also focused on developments in the regional and international arenas, especially with regard to the Palestinian issue.

At the heart of the discussions between the two men were indeed the relations between Israel and Palestine and the re-launch of the peace process. Cairo is also discussing with the Palestinian Authority and Hamas leaders. Egypt - like Jordan, which received Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority in August 2021 - could therefore serve as an intermediary to reach a solution and especially to allow the belligerents to start talks again. Abdel Fattah al-Sissi confirmed that his country "supports all efforts to achieve a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, based on the two-state solution as well as on the resolutions of international legitimacy. All this contributes to strengthening security and ensuring the prosperity of all the peoples of the region.

The Egyptian President also "stressed the need for the international community to support Egypt's reconstruction efforts in the Palestinian territories". In the same statement, he reiterated "the importance of maintaining calm between Palestinians and Israelis, especially in light of Egypt's continued efforts to ease tensions between the two sides in the West Bank and Gaza".

​"Conquering Gaza or endless violence: two bad options"

"Prime Minister Benett stressed Egypt's important role in maintaining security stability in the Gaza Strip," the Israeli government said. "Israel is increasingly opening up to the countries of the region, and the basis for this long-standing recognition is peace between Israel and Egypt. Therefore, on both sides, we must invest in strengthening this link, and that is what we have done today," commented Naftali Bennett.

This meeting between Naftali Bennett and Abdel Fattah al-Sissi comes the day after a speech by Yair Lapid at a conference on security in Jerusalem, Sunday, September 12, 2021. According to the head of Israeli diplomacy, "since Israel left the Gaza Strip in 2005, we have been embroiled in a series of violence that cause suffering to our people and harm to our economy. Israel's policy so far has not changed the situation in any substantial way. The short answer is that we need to launch a broad multi-year process of the economy in exchange for security."

Speaking of "a more realistic version of what was called in the past the rehabilitation for demilitarisation", Yair Lapid says that "the objective of this process is to create stability on both sides of the border, civil, security, economic and diplomatic. For too long, the only two options were conquering Gaza or endless violence. Both are bad options. The Israeli Foreign Minister concluded: "Conquering Gaza is against our national interest. There is nothing for us there. The waves of violence are exhausting the IDF, our international legitimacy and the solidarity and resistance of Israeli society.

An "economy in exchange for security" plan in two phases

As part of the desire to "create better living conditions for the Palestinians and better conditions for future talks", according to Yair Lapid, the "economy in exchange for security" plan provides for two phases. A first phase during which "electricity lines would be repaired, gas connected and a water desalination plant built" in Gaza. The second phase would create a port on an artificial island, a new industrial zone and a "road link" between Gaza and the West Bank.

It would be based on "a security formula: in exchange for calm, we are ready to give more than before. If the calm is broken, Hamas and other terrorist organisations must know that the response will be more severe than before. If Sinwar (editor's note: Yahya Sinwar, military chief of Hamas and de facto leader of the Gaza Strip) and Haniyeh (editor's note: Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas) continue to act against Israel, we will know and the international community will know that Hamas refuses to improve life in Gaza because the only thing they are interested in is killing Jews," Yair Lapid says. He admits that this plan "cannot be carried out without the commitment of (our) Egyptian partners. Israel refuses to discuss with Hamas. The process will require international financial support, particularly from the United States, the European Union and the Gulf States."

Read also: Gaza reconstruction bill could reach $485m

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