30.11.2023 Author: Viktor Mikhin

The war in Gaza and Cairo’s efforts to de-escalate the crisis

Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar

In an attempt to address the pressing humanitarian needs and contain the conflict in Gaza, summits continue to take place all over the world. Perhaps the most active in this is our closest neighbor and very concerned Egypt, which is making great efforts to resolve this massacre and to provide the Palestinians with food and everything they need to help them survive in these very difficult conditions.

The meeting between President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Emir of Qatar, took place in Qatar on November 10. He participated at the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit in Riyadh on November 11, where he had meetings with a number of Arab leaders to discuss the issue of Israel’s war on Gaza. Tarek Fahmy, a political science professor at Cairo University, told the Al-Ahram weekly that Egyptian consultations and meetings are still taking place in an effort to preserve what remains of the Palestinian cause and present it to the world community. The talks, he said, are crucial to defusing the Gaza conflict and giving the problem of civilian hostages significant attention. Egypt’s discussions with Arab and foreign parties were also crucial since they may influence different developments in the upcoming phase.

The recent gatherings in Cairo, including the Egyptian-Qatari consultations, the Emir of Qatar’s visit, the recent visits to Cairo by the Israeli and Hamas delegations, and others, are critical to the attempts to defuse the Gaza crisis and effectively handle the hostage situation. In an effort to improve the situation in Gaza and guarantee that long-term aid reaches its citizens, Cairo and Doha are actively seeking the release of Israeli captives held by the Palestinian militant group Hamas. Egypt maintains touch with both Israel and Hamas and has been involved in discussions for the release of captives and aid through the Rafah Crossing Point into Gaza. It has helped evacuate foreign passport holders from Gaza as well as several Palestinians in need of immediate medical assistance. In the meantime, efforts to arbitrate between Hamas and Israel for the release of more than 240 hostages held by Hamas on October 7 are being led by Qatar, the home base of numerous Hamas political figures.

According to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s statement, El-Sisi and Tamim talked about the increasing efforts being made to achieve a ceasefire in Gaza and provide much-needed relief to its 2.3 million beleaguered citizens. Any agreement must include the return of displaced civilians to northern Gaza, as desired by both nations. But so far, obstinate differences over hostages have prevented real negotiations from commencing, among other reasons is an absence of political will. “The talks are expected to begin with a deal to release civilian hostages, followed by another deal to release military hostages, and then an agreement on a ceasefire and the procedures that will follow the truce,” Al-Ahram stated.

The participating nations underlined the significance of the Palestinian cause, their support for the rightful struggle of the Palestinian people to liberate their occupied territory, and the necessity of putting an end to Israeli aggression against the Palestinian people at the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit held in Riyadh on November 11. Mohamed Hegazy, Former Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs specified that the summit emphasized a unified Arab-Islamic vision, saying that the two blocs will work to achieve a two-state solution to the crisis. This will be announced at an international conference that will set a timeline for the establishment of a Palestinian state. The summit conveyed two messages to Israel: all Arab and Islamic states will build cordial ties with it if it wishes peace in line with the Arab Peace Initiative. However, boycotts and isolation on a regional and global scale would result from the failure to bring about justice through the creation of a Palestinian state, according to Hegazy. He went on to say that Israel needs to understand that maintaining peace in the region necessitates it being a peaceful nation that doesn’t take over territory or murder civilians.

On the other hand, not many political scientists are optimistic about the summit. They felt that while the final statement touched on certain crucial points, it did not include specific recommendations for how to stop Israeli aggression or address the current humanitarian situation. The Arab and Islamic summits were supposed to take place on the same day, but in separate sessions. Their unification was requested by half of the foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The Palestinians, who would have liked an Arab summit held separately to concentrate on Gaza and enable the summit to make significant proposals, did not welcome the unification.

The leaders reiterated in their concluding 31-point resolution that the best way to provide security and stability for all the peoples in the area and shield them from cycles of violence and conflict is via just, comprehensive, and lasting peace. We stress that this cannot be accomplished in the absence of an end to the Israeli occupation and a two-state resolution to the Palestinian conflict, according to the statement. It demands that Israel be acknowledged as an occupying force by the international community, with all the ramifications that entail under international humanitarian law. The declaration opposes any effort to forcibly relocate, exile, or deport Palestinians in any way, whether they are coming from Gaza, the West Bank, or Jerusalem to another location.

President El-Sisi and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi had a crucial meeting off the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit. The two leaders talked about their bilateral relations and the situation in Gaza. El-Sisi shared Egypt’s efforts with Raisi to reach a truce in Gaza, as well as the country’s efforts to give humanitarian relief to Gaza residents. For his part, Raisi stressed how critical it is that Islamic nations band together to oppose Israeli assault in the Gaza Strip. The two presidents also conveyed their intention to strengthen their bilateral ties. This is the first meeting of Egyptian and Iranian presidents in 45 years, since Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979. “For this purpose, we have instructed the relevant ministers to develop deep relations between the two countries,” El-Sisi added, expressing Egypt’s political commitment to forge genuine ties with Iran. In a comparable manner, Raisi stated: “The Islamic Republic of Iran has no obstacles to expand relations with the friendly country of Egypt.”

In a separate meeting two days earlier in Paris, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry warned of the dire consequences of a prolonged ceasefire in Gaza. “Israel’s actions in Gaza go beyond any concept of a legitimate right to self-defense,” he said at the conference in Paris. He criticized all activities aimed at evicting Palestinians from their homeland. Shoukry said that even providing a safe corridor for Gaza’s civilians to move from the north to the south “is not a positive development, but rather a continuation of displacement in violation of international humanitarian law.” Under Israeli military orders, about two thirds of Gaza’s population was displaced from the northern to the southern part of the Gaza Strip. French President Emmanuel Macron insisted on a ceasefire and reaffirmed the necessity of a humanitarian halt “very quickly” at the same conference. “The situation is serious and getting worse every day,” emphasized Macron.

To address this worry, the Egyptian mission in Geneva joined up with seventy other ambassadors to issue a unified appeal to end the bloodshed in Gaza. According to the statement, hospitals in Gaza are “grinding to a halt” as a result of the fuel and electrical supply being cut off. “Doctors perform surgeries without anesthesia; mothers watch their babies struggle to survive in incubators that lack electricity; the only cancer hospital in Gaza has closed while other hospitals are bombed,” they stated. The ambassadors’ statement called for an immediate ceasefire and urged the international community “to exert maximum pressure” to ensure emergency humanitarian access and assistance and the restoration of basic services. They also called for measures to stop Palestinians from being forcibly relocated within or outside of Gaza.

As of this writing, almost 11,000 Palestinians had lost their lives in the Gaza War. Seventy-five percent of the casualties are women, children, and the elderly. There were over 26,000 injuries. Many now see this as an extermination campaign rather than a war to defeat Hamas. Human Rights Watch, the International Committee of the Red Cross, UN agencies, and other non-governmental organizations had their appeals denied. Not only does Israel want to exact revenge on October 7, but it also wants to impose a new strategy that modifies the parameters of the UN idea. This strategy was intended to undermine the fundamental basis of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and establish two states on Palestinian territory.


Victor Mikhin, corresponding member of RANS, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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