Egypt’s el-Sisi says future Palestinian state could be ‘demilitarised’
El-Sisi spoke after a meeting with the Spanish and Belgian PMs as they try to shore up support for a peace conference.
Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (C) meeting with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (L) and Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (R) at the Ittihadia presidential Palace in Cairo [Egyptian Presidency via AFP]Published On 24 Nov 202324 Nov 2023
A future Palestinian state could be demilitarised and have a temporary international security presence, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has said.
“We said that we are ready for this state to be demilitarised, and there can also be guarantees of forces, whether NATO forces, United Nations forces, or Arab or American forces, until we achieve security for both states, the nascent Palestinian state and the Israeli state,” el-Sisi said on Friday during a joint news conference in Cairo with Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.
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A political resolution which calls for a Palestinian state based on the June 4, 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital, has remained out of reach, el-Sisi added.
Arab nations have rejected suggestions that an Arab force could provide security in the Gaza Strip after the end of Israel’s current military operation there against the Palestinian group Hamas, which has governed Gaza since 2007.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi told reporters in London this week that Arab states would not want to go into a Gaza Strip that could be turned into a “wasteland” by Israel’s military offensive.
“What are the circumstances under which any of us would want to go and be seen as the enemy and be seen as having come to clean up Israel’s mess?” he said.
Shoring up support for an international peace conference
The Spanish prime minister, whose new government was sworn in earlier this month, is visiting the region alongside his Belgian counterpart. Their two countries hold the current and upcoming rotating presidencies of the Council of the European Union, respectively.
Sanchez has been trying to shore up momentum for an international peace conference aimed at securing the establishment of a “viable” Palestinian state, he told Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday.
Last week, Sanchez said a Union for the Mediterranean summit in Barcelona on November 27-28 would be an “ideal place” to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian dialogue as the two sides would “sit on an equal footing” there.
Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs limited parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, are members of the Mediterranean grouping along with neighbours Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria.
Later on Friday, Sanchez and de Croo visited the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza, currently the only one providing access to the besieged enclave.
De Croo called on Israel to open more of Gaza’s crossings “because innocent civilians are suffering and they need help.”
Sanchez said during the visit to Rafah that the current four-day truce in Gaza is not enough and that a permanent ceasefire was needed.
Combat between Israeli troops and Hamas fighters halted on Friday for the first time in seven weeks before the planned release of civilian hostages held by Hamas in exchange for Palestinian prisoners.
The fighting erupted on October 7 when Hamas carried out an attack on southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials.
Israel has responded with a devastating assault on Gaza, killing more than 15,000 people, including more than 6,000 children, according to Palestinian authorities.