Egypt and the Gaza ‘transfer’ plan
Cairo forces Washington to stop backing Israel’s ethnic cleansing scheme?
The remarks made by Egyptian President Abdelfattah as-Sisi at his joint press conference with German Chancellor Olaf Sholz about the US/Israeli plan to expel the population of the Gaza Strip to Sinai are important. They deserve scrutiny for the following reasons:
First, Sisi’s suggestion that if Israel wants civilians to leave Gaza, they could be moved to the Naqab desert in southern occupied Palestine until it completes its declared mission of destroying Hamas and other armed resistance groups. This was no spur-of-the-moment suggestion or slip of the tongue. It was fully intended, deliberately timed, and proposed in the presence of a European leader.
Second, he reaffirmed Egypt’s absolute rejection of the forced eviction of the people of the Gaza Strip to Egypt, and stressed that all the Arab states share that position. That restatement of the obvious marked a departure from Egypt’s compliance with US dictates and Camp David constraints, if only temporarily.
Third, his threat to urge millions of Egyptians to take to the streets to demonstrate against such a move was a message that he would mobilise the ‘street’ if necessary to prepare it to support a possible military confrontation.
Fourth, he said transferring Gaza’s population to Egypt would mean transferring its resistance there too, turning Sinai into a front of resistance to the occupation and launching-pad for cross-border guerrilla attacks. It is a strategic imperative for the Egyptian military for the population to remain in Gaza.
Fifth, he made the reopening of the Rafah crossing to enable foreign nationals to leave Gaza conditional on Israel allowing humanitarian and medical aid to go in. That amounted to an outright rejection of its demand that all the Israeli captives held by the resistance are released before any provision of aid is permitted.
Sixth, Egypt will counter any further Israeli escalation with escalation of its own. I know from my sources that there is seething anger within the Egyptian army and military establishment.
The Egyptian president’s suggestion that Palestinians are evacuated to the Negev looks good at first sight. It would be an instant partial implementation of the Palestinian right to return. A majority of Gaza’s inhabitants hail from ethnically cleansed towns and villages in southern Palestine.
Sisi’s suggestion, which must have struck the Israeli political and military establishments like a thunderbolt, had an immediate impact. It made US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken abandon his backing for the Israeli expulsion scheme, which he had toured Arab capitals to promote. It seems he heard words in Cairo that frightened him into changing course and declaring he opposes it.
Israel, especially under its current fascist government, wants to get rid of all or most of the Palestinians and apply its Nation State Law: i.e. to make this entity a homeland for Jews only, with no place for Arabs be they Muslim (including Druze) or Christian.
Transferring the Gaza Strip’s people to Sinai and turning it into their alternative homeland would only be a prelude to expelling the West Bank’s people and contriving a war to transfer them to another alternative homeland in Jordan. The US and Europe are primed to support this policy of ethnic cleansing.
The Gaza Strip’s people utterly oppose being moved to the Sinai desert. They will never go back to living in tents, even if Egypt were to agree, which is out of the question. It never stops thanking God for having rid it of the colossal burden called Gaza when Israel occupied the Strip in the June 1967 war. It will never go back into the place, let alone agree to resettling two million of its inhabitants with all the problems and crises that would cause at every level — and to satisfy purely Israeli security interests in which Egypt has no stake.
Fifty years after signing the Camp David accords, Egypt is beginning to feel the downside. This catastrophic agreement lost the country its regional leadership and pioneering international role, and turned a great nation into a state that lives off US and some Arab handouts, and whose water security is threatened by a scheme, the Renaissance Dam, supported by the US, Israel, and some Arab countries.
Israel is in a state of terror and trauma after the massive military defeat it was dealt by Hamas and other resistance groups when they broke through its multi-billion-dollar border fence, attacked military installations and outposts, liberated dozens of settlements in the Gaza Envelope, killed 1,500 Israelis, injured 4,000, and took 250 captive. That explains the flurry of visits by Western leaders led by Joe Biden to soothe the frayed nerves of its leaders and settlers, reassure it about its future, and pledge to preserve what remains of its military supremacy and power to intimidate and deter.
The Israeli army would be defeated in the Gaza Strip as it was defeated in South Lebanon in 2000 and 2006. That is the way the ground offensive has been delayed. The resistance has made plans to accord it the welcome it deserves, and engage the invaders in street and tunnel warfare at which it is skilled, and from which it can emerge victorious with no help from anyone.
The Gaza Strip’s people cannot be crushed by any amount of Israeli firepower. These heroic fighters and their families will one day return to their lands and villages in southern, central, and coastal Palestine, in a new Middle East in which — thanks to them and their sacrifices — there is no place for a racist Israeli state or US hegemony.