Sunday,17 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-
Sunday,17 February, 2019
Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-

Ahram Weekly

Egypt acts to stop the war

Egyptian diplomatic efforts are in full swing in a bid to stop the Israeli aggression on Gaza, writes Doaa El-Bey

Al-Ahram Weekly

“It’s the same old story. Israel strikes Gaza for a period that it chooses and then withdraws as if nothing has happened. No one can stop it. It happened before, and it may happen again in the future,” said Hassan Ali, a taxi driver describing the current Israeli aggression against Gaza.
He was referring to the previous Israeli aggression against Gaza that took place in December 2008 and left many Palestinians dead or injured. Egypt was criticised then for not taking strong enough action against the Israeli aggression.
“The situation is different this time, but I am not sure any efforts can change the Israeli plan regarding Gaza,” said one diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity. However, there had been a revolution in Egypt, he said, followed by an elected regime supposedly more capable of standing up to Israel.
“On the other hand, the international support for Israel and its claim that the war was launched in self-defense could impede Egyptian and Arab efforts to stop the aggression,” the diplomat said.
Egypt’s relations with Israel have grown increasingly cold since the 25 January Revolution, presenting a possible further obstacle to Egyptian mediation. Meetings on the presidential and ministerial levels could be held and phone calls exchanged, the diplomat said, but the outcome may not be different.
Nevertheless, Egyptian diplomats exerted many efforts to end the Israeli aggression this week. Officials in Egypt and Hamas talked about a possible declaration of an agreement in a few hours. However, a Hamas official said later that Egyptian efforts to conduct a truce with Israel had been held up because the Israeli government had yet to respond to their proposals. But there are still high hopes that an agreement followed by a truce would be reached soon.
In the hope of brokering a truce, Egypt Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr met with his American counterpart Hillary Clinton in Cairo yesterday. Her visit came after she concluded a visit to Israel during which she met Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. She also met with the Palestinian leader in the West Bank.
Netanyahu told Clinton that Israel is seeking a long-term diplomatic solution to the threat of rockets from the Palestinian territories. At the meantime, he said that his country would have to take whatever action is necessary to defend its people.
A group of Arab foreign ministers visited Gaza on Tuesday to show solidarity with the Palestinians under Israeli attack. The group included Arab League Chief Nabil Al-Arabi, Egyptian foreign minister Mohamed Kamel Amr and Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. Amr said during the visit that the damage they saw resulting from the latest Israeli strikes on the occupied territories is beyond what had previously been reported.
Al-Arabi had set the date of the visit in coordination with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Amr met UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in Cairo on Monday to discuss the possibility of a ceasefire, and Ban also met with President Mohamed Morsi on Tuesday. Ban called for an immediate ceasefire and warned that ground operations could result in all-out regional violence. He headed to Tel Aviv, Ramallah and Gaza after his visit to Egypt.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry has been keen to reassert Egypt’s position regarding the importance of stopping the Israeli assault on Gaza. Amr also received a third phone call from his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, over the last two days after the latter had concluded a visit to Tel Aviv.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Amr Roshdi said that the two officials had discussed efforts to stop the Israeli aggression against the Palestinians in Gaza.
One day earlier, Amr had received calls from Fabius and British Foreign Minister William Hague on the same issue. Amr discussed with the two officials the importance of stopping the Israeli aggression and saving the lives of innocent Palestinian civilians.
According to a Foreign Ministry statement, Amr had added that he looked forward to a united European stand calling for an end to the Israeli aggression against Gaza at the EU foreign ministers meeting on Tuesday.
He also discussed the situation in Gaza with his US, Italian, Brazilian and Jordanian counterparts.
An urgent meeting of Arab foreign ministers was held in Cairo on Saturday to discuss the issue, where the ministers gave their backing to Egyptian efforts to secure a truce between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
The ministers condemned the Israeli offensive in Gaza that started on 14 November and has killed more than 150 Palestinians and wounded hundreds and called for a review of the Arab peace process with Israel.
Member states of the Arab League should “reconsider all past Arab initiatives on the peace process and review their stance on the process as a whole,” Al-Arabi said.
He was particularly referring to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative presented after the Arab Summit in Riyadh in 2002, when Arab states offered Israel diplomatic recognition in return for its withdrawal from the occupied territories and a fair settlement of the Palestinian refugee issue.
Since then, the initiative has been the basis for Arab diplomacy with Israel.
The Gaza crisis also dominated another meeting this week, when Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for a truce between the Palestinians and the Israelis during a visit to Cairo when he met with President Morsi.
Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal was also in Cairo to meet Egypt’s intelligence chief Raafat Shehata, the official traditionally responsible for mediating between the Palestinians and Israel, and Qatari Emir Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani.
Morsi also met with Al-Thani and Meshaal to discuss ways of resolving the Gaza crisis.
In reaction to the Israeli offensive, Morsi recalled the Egyptian ambassador to Tel Aviv and sent Prime Minister Hisham Kandil to Gaza last Friday in a show of support for the Palestinians.

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