The Egyptian role in the Palestinian issue and the International Peace Summit


Egypt played a major role throughout the 75-year history of the Palestinian issue, as it had an active role in contributing to ending the crises in the Arab region and restoring stability to it, based on its strength and position.  During the seventies, Cairo continued its efforts by accepting the “Rogers 1970” initiative, which included the necessity of bringing peace to the region, conducting negotiations under the supervision of the United Nations envoy to reach a final agreement, and how to implement Resolution (242), including Israel’s withdrawal from the territories it occupied.  1967.  Egypt strengthened its efforts in this regard, when the late President (Mohamed Anwar Sadat) proposed the idea of ​​establishing an interim Palestinian government in September 1972, in response to the claims of Golda Meir, the then Prime Minister of Israel, that there was no Palestinian people. The entire Egyptian role towards the Palestinian issue can be traced during the period of all previous Egyptian presidents, up to the current period of President “Abdel Fattah El-Sisi” and Egypt’s hosting of the international peace conference after the “Al-Aqsa Flood Operation” in October 2023 between the Hamas movement and Israel, as follows:

   In June 1989, the former Egyptian President “Mohamed Hosni Mubarak”, presented his peace plan, which included the necessity of resolving the Palestinian issue, in accordance with (Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338) and the principle of land for peace, and establishing political rights for the Palestinians. Then these efforts were strengthened in October of the same year, when they demonstrated Egypt to welcome the initiative of “James Baker”, former US Secretary of State, which included holding a Palestinian-Israeli dialogue as a step towards peace. During the 1990s, Egypt’s role in calling for peace was highlighted by participating in the signing of the Oslo Accords in September 1993, which was reached by the Palestinian and Israeli sides. Egypt then played a prominent role until the completion of the signing of the “Cairo Protocol” in August 1995, which included the transfer of a number of powers to the Palestinian Authority.

  Egypt led prominent efforts to sign the Hebron Agreement in 1997, regarding the general framework for security arrangements in the city and the next stages of redeployment. Egypt also participated in the Arab Initiative of December 1997, which stipulated raising the Palestinian representation at the United Nations from “observer” to the status of “quasi-state”.

 In 1998, Egypt, in partnership with France, called for holding an international conference to save the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in May 1998. Egypt also supported the Palestinian side in its demand to adhere to the “Ye Plantation” agreement, which it reached with Israel as an implementation of the “Oslo” agreements.

  During the rule of former President “Mohamed Hosni Mubarak”, which lasted approximately 30 years, the Palestinian issue witnessed many sharp developments, and as a result, Egypt’s positions and roles developed to achieve stability in this volatile region of Egypt’s eastern borders. The beginning was with the withdrawal of the Egyptian ambassador from Israel after the (1982 Sabra and Shatila massacre).  In 1989, Mubarak presented his peace plan, which included the necessity of resolving the Palestinian issue in accordance with the Security Council resolution, and the principle of land for peace, with a halt to Israeli settlements. In September 1993, former President Mubarak participated in signing the Oslo Accords regarding the Palestinians’ right to self-rule, and in 2003  Egypt supported the Geneva Document between the Israelis and Palestinians as a peace model for calming the situation in the region.

  Egypt sponsors the Palestinian-Palestinian dialogue, and it has been hosted in Cairo in repeated rounds since November 11, 2002, with the aim of helping these factions achieve Palestinian reconciliation. Egypt has aimed to achieve the following goals during its sponsorship of these dialogues, through the following steps:

  1. The necessity of developing a unified political program among all the factions, the main pillar of which is authorizing the Palestinian Authority to conduct negotiations with Israel on crucial issues.
  • No faction or the Palestinian Authority will deviate from the unified political program or take decision-making alone.
  • Strengthening the Palestinian Authority and rebuilding the institutions of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
  • Egypt has been keen to inform the Palestinian factions from the beginning of the dialogue that they do not constitute an alternative to the Palestinian Authority, and that they must all think about the highest interests of the Palestinian people and unify their vision, which prompts international parties to return their interest in the peace process in the Middle East after these parties became convinced that what  Taking place in the Palestinian territories has harmed the Palestinian cause.

 But, in 2010, when the Israeli bombing of the Gaza Strip was renewed, the Egyptian leadership refused to open the Rafah crossing, stressing that it would not allow reconciliation to be achieved at the expense of the country.

 Egypt opened its efforts in the new millennium by presenting an initiative to stop the violence and resume negotiations in March 2001. Then, in June 2022, “Mubarak” proposed declaring the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in 2003, and discussing thorny issues such as Jerusalem, the settlements, and others. Then Egypt participated strongly in the efforts that led to n approval on the roadmap plan adopted by the Quartet in October 2002.

 Egypt supported the informal Geneva document between the Israelis and Palestinians in December 2003, as a model of balanced peace. Egypt also put forward an initiative to play a direct role in preparing the atmosphere for the implementation of the Israeli withdrawal plan from the Gaza Strip in June 2004. Egypt then supported its vision of the Palestinian issue by stressing the necessity of the negotiation process.  between the two sides with a reasonable time frame and not an open-ended one, December 2008, former Egyptian President “Mubarak” affirmed in February 2009 that the Palestinian issue could not tolerate postponement, and that he looked forward to ending the occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state without waiting.

  After President “El-Sisi” took office, the Palestinian issue remained a central issue for Egypt, and Egypt made many efforts to establish a ceasefire to avoid further violence and the shedding of the blood of innocent civilians from the Palestinian people who are paying the price for military confrontations in which they are not to blame, in addition to the humanitarian efforts that Egypt provided through opening the Rafah crossing to receive wounded and injured Palestinians and food and medical aid to the Palestinian people. But Egypt has always been a pioneer, and in light of its war against terrorism and facing economic problems, we found President “Abdel Fattah El-Sisi” announcing during his meetings with Palestinian officials, led by President “Mahmoud Abbas”, and during his speech in Assiut Governorate during the opening of a project in May 2016, on several axes, as follows:

  1. Egypt will continue its tireless efforts to establish a Palestinian state on the borders of June 4, 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
  • Reaching a just and comprehensive settlement would support the stability of the region and contribute to reducing the turmoil witnessed in the Middle East.
  • The necessity of preserving the Arab constants related to the Palestinian issue.
  • It supports the Palestinians in their next steps, whether by participating in implementing the French initiative, or going to the UN Security Council.

  The Egyptian constants towards the Palestinian issue remained firm during the era of “El-Sisi”, as Egypt affirmed, since 2014, its complete rejection of the brutal Israeli practices, and considers them a violation of international law, and the cessation of any practices that violate the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque.  Following the May 2021 aggression, Egyptian President “El-Sisi” directed that patients and critical cases be transferred for treatment to Cairo. The Egyptian Red Crescent also sent relief materials and medical supplies to the Strip, and the Egyptian Ministry of Health prepared 3 hospitals to receive the wounded and injured coming from the Gaza Strip, via the Rafah land port.

 Egyptian efforts have succeeded in establishing a truce in the Gaza Strip since 2014 twice, as Egyptian efforts culminated in success in May 2021, under the leadership of President “El-Sisi”, in establishing an unconditional truce and ceasefire in the Strip. These are efforts for which the Secretary-General of the United Nations “António Guterres”, specifically announced his support for a ceasefire fire.

 Finally, Egypt, led by President “El-Sisi”, called for an international peace conference in the New Administrative Capital, to host the 2023 Cairo Peace Summit, in order to stop the Israeli military operations on the Gaza Strip after (Operation Al-Aqsa Flood) between the Hamas movement and Israel, as part of an initiative stipulating the need to urgently begin examining ways to a comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, under the two-state solution, amid broad international support.

  After President “Abdel Fattah El-Sisi” called, during a meeting of the Egyptian National Security Council, to host a regional and international summit on the Palestinian issue, several countries and organizations decided to participate in the summit, which was held on Saturday, October 21, 2023.

  On the basis that there is no solution to the Palestinian issue except the two-state solution, and to reject and denounce the policy of displacement or attempts to liquidate the Palestinian issue at the expense of neighboring countries, and in order to coordinate international efforts and discuss all possible ways to end the current escalation and restore the prospects for the political process between the Palestinian and Israeli sides to reach a permanent solution. It is comprehensive for the Palestinian issue in accordance with the decisions of international legitimacy and preserves the rights of the Palestinians in their state, with the participation of 31 countries and three international organizations in the Egyptian summit called for by President “El-Sisi” in the New Administrative Capital in October 2023.

  Leaders and leaders of several countries participated in the Egyptian Peace Summit in October 2023, led by President “El-Sisi”, which are: (Qatar, Turkey, Greece, Palestine, the Emirates, Bahrain, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Italy, and Cyprus), in addition to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, “Antonio Guterres”. He praised the Egyptian role in ensuring the delivery of aid to the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. This is in addition to the presence of the Prime Ministers of Britain, Italy, Spain, Cyprus, Turkey and Brazil, as well as the presence of the Special Envoy of China, the American Special Envoy, the Moroccan Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Foreign Minister of Norway, the Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, and the President of the European Council.

 We find that at the present time, Egyptian President El-Sisi’s moves to contain the current crisis between Hamas and Israel after “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” have continued to calm the situation and stop the escalation in order to preserve the lives of civilians and alleviate the suffering of the residents of the Gaza Strip, since the beginning of the military operation that witnessed an unprecedented escalation. It was preceded against the Gaza Strip, which was initiated by the Israeli occupation forces over the past period. Given the weight of Cairo’s role and its historical role towards the Palestinian issue, President “Abdel Fattah El-Sisi” received communications from all world leaders and international organizations, most notably: the Secretary-General of the United Nations, the Presidency of the European Commission, the French, American and German Presidents, the Prime Ministers of Britain and the Netherlands, and other leaders around the world, and the Egyptian confirmation was made.  During which, through President Sisi, he stressed the need to adopt a path of calm, reduce escalation, and military operations against defenseless civilians in the Gaza Strip.  Egyptian efforts by President “El-Sisi” also came to the fore, based on its role towards the Palestinian issue, as President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, in extensive contacts with many leaders around the world, discussed possible efforts to contain the crisis and stop the escalation.

  The efforts of Egypt and President “El-Sisi” were crowned with success through the success of the Egyptian call for the entire international community to hold the (Egypt International Peace Summit) in the New Administrative Capital, with the aim of discussing the future of the Palestinian issue and the peace process. The (Egypt International Peace Summit) comes after the cancellation of the Quarter Summit between (USA-Egypt-Palestine-Jordan), which was scheduled to be held in the Jordanian capital, Amman, with President “Abdel Fattah El-Sisi” stressing the importance of this summit hosted by Egypt producing outcomes that contribute to stopping the ongoing escalation between Hamas and Israel, in order to deal with the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, and to push the peace path in the right direction again. Here, Egypt plays a pivotal role in the Palestinian issue, through the role of President “El-Sisi” in the international peace conference to resolve the current conflict between Hamas and Israel, through Egypt’s recommendations in this conference for a ceasefire and a solution to the conflict between Hamas and Israel, and here President “El-Sisi” took the lead.  The scene is before the whole world and the international community to resolve the Palestinian issue. The most important recommendations of President “El-Sisi” came at the (Egypt International Peace Summit) conference in the New Administrative Capital, in pushing for the necessity of continuing the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing in a sustainable manner, with the Egyptian emphasis of President “El-Sisi” on rejecting Israel’s policies of collective punishment against the population. The Gaza Strip from being besieged or starved, or the displacement of Palestinians from their lands to Egypt or Jordan, and President El-Sisi’s warning of the extreme danger of these calls and policies to regional security.

  It must be noted here the firm Egyptian response by President “El-Sisi” to the Israeli plan through which Israel is trying to pressure the displacement of the Palestinians in Gaza to Sinai, and its warning to more than a million and a half citizens in northern Gaza that they must evacuate this part of the Strip towards the south, which is what  Egypt and the United Nations considered it impossible to achieve it. All Egyptians and the political leadership of the Egyptian state, represented by President “El-Sisi”, also reject the Israeli side’s policy of collective punishment against the people of Gaza, including siege, starvation, or displacement of brothers in Gaza.  Also, the talk about displacing the Palestinians from their land until Israel finishes liquidating the resistance was rejected by the Egyptian side and President “El-Sisi”, as it is considered, from the Egyptian point of view, an acknowledgment of the Israeli interpretation of the right to self-defense that violates the United Nations Charter, which cannot be accepted.  All Egyptians also supported the Egyptian political leadership and President “El-Sisi”, by affirming their complete rejection of liquidating the Palestinian cause with military tools or any attempts to forcibly displace Palestinians from their lands or for this to come at the expense of the countries of the region. Taking into account that the idea of ​​displacing the people of Gaza and resettling them in other countries and territories is not new today, but has been planned by the Israeli occupation for many years according to several different scenarios and formulas, whether permanently or temporarily. The idea dates back to the late Egyptian President “Anwar Sadat”, through his predecessor, former President “Mohamed Hosni Mubarak”, and it has been re-presented at the present time with President “Abdel Fattah El-Sisi”. It has always been met with joint Palestinian and Egyptian rejection.  Many politicians in Israel, specifically from the extreme right wing, believe that this performance will force the Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to leave by force to accomplish the “old and new “transfer” project”, by giving them the choice between death or taking refuge in Sinai in Egypt for the residents of Gaza or Jordan for the residents of the West Bank.  Western.

 Knowing that Palestinian President “Abu Mazen” admitted that the ousted “Mohamed Morsi” had agreed to the American and Israeli side on this notorious proposal, which confirms the lack of patriotism of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood and their intense hatred for the people of Egypt and the people of Palestine and Gaza, and their attempt to liquidate their greater Palestinian cause at the expense of the rules of international legitimacy, and standing with the forces of evil and injustice in forcibly displacing the people of Gaza from their land, handing over the Israelis and Americans to the Sinai Peninsula, and harming Egyptian national security.  Therefore, the Egyptians’ exit in the demonstrations of the June 30, 2013 revolution was a slap in the face of the betrayal of the terrorist Muslim Brotherhood in confronting the people of Egypt and Palestine.

  Here came the exit of all the masses of the Egyptian people after Friday prayers, corresponding to October 20, 2023, in response to President El-Sisi’s call to confirm before the whole world and the international community that the Egyptians cannot give up any inch of Egyptian soil, especially the land of Sinai, because the “displacement” of the Palestinians from the Strip  Gaza to Egypt could cause the same thing to happen to Palestinians from the West Bank to Jordan. Therefore, the idea of ​​the Palestinian state that we are talking about becomes unimplementable. Also, the Israeli entity basically does not apply to “a state in accordance with international law”, because the state basically means “land, people and authority”, and when the forced displacement of the Palestinians takes place, there will be no Palestinian state and therefore the main goal is to liquidate the Palestinian issue and for there to be no Palestinian state in  end of the day.  Since the start of the ongoing Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip, according to the United Nations, about a million or more have been displaced from several areas, especially in the northern areas of the Gaza Strip, as a result of the retaliatory bombing carried out by the Israeli occupation forces after Operation “Al-Aqsa Flood”.

 Here, President El-Sisi’s call must be emphasized that if the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel does not stop, if its scope expands, and its effects spread, it will move the entire region to a dangerous slide that threatens to cause the region to suffer a catastrophe whose consequences are feared.  Here, we must point out the catastrophe of bombing the Baptist Hospital in Gaza and killing hundreds of innocent people, especially children, which is considered a dangerous Israeli escalation. Therefore, all Egyptians declared their condemnation of this heinous crime against defenseless innocents.

   Finally, by reviewing the aforementioned Egyptian role and positions of the Egyptian government and people regarding the Palestinian issue over more than half a century, Egypt’s connection to the Palestinian issue is a permanent and fixed connection dictated by Egyptian national security considerations and the ties of geography, history, blood, and nationalism with the people of Palestine. Therefore, the Egyptian position on the Palestine issue was not at all, because it is a stage that is subject to the calculations of immediate interests, and was never a card for regional or international bargaining. Therefore, Egypt’s organic connection to the Palestinian issue was not affected by the change in Egyptian systems and policies.

Dr.Nadia Helmy
Dr.Nadia Helmy
Associate Professor of Political Science, Faculty of Politics and Economics / Beni Suef University- Egypt. An Expert in Chinese Politics, Sino-Israeli relationships, and Asian affairs- Visiting Senior Researcher at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES)/ Lund University, Sweden- Director of the South and East Asia Studies Unit