Tue 20 Feb 2024 12:35 pm - Jerusalem Time

Western diplomats: Efforts to dissuade Netanyahu from invading Rafah have failed

In light of international warnings of a catastrophe if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proceeds to invade Rafah on the border with Egypt, where nearly a million and a half displaced Palestinians are crowded, and his and his Defense Minister Yoav Galant’s insistence on carrying out a broad military operation in the region, Cairo is waiting. US President Joe Biden's senior advisor, Brett McGurk, arrives in Egypt.

The Israeli Channel 13 reported yesterday, Sunday, that McGurk is expected to arrive in the region in the coming days. She explained that "the talks in Egypt will focus on two main files: the Rafah issue, and the possible (Israeli military) movement in the city located south of the Gaza Strip." The channel placed the visit against the backdrop of the Netanyahu government’s refusal to send another delegation to participate in the Cairo talks, and the escalation of fears of an invasion of Rafah.

Netanyahu sticks to his decision to invade Rafah

In this context, Western diplomats in Cairo confirmed, “Attempts and communications that took place over the past few days to dissuade Netanyahu from his plans that would blow up the region have failed.”

In Cairo, McGurk will discuss the possible Israeli move in Rafah

A European diplomat, familiar with her country's efforts regarding the situation in the Gaza Strip, said, "There were serious efforts on the part of a number of countries with weight in the European Union, but they failed in the face of the stubbornness of the prime minister of the occupation, who stressed during the past days the move forward with his plan, which... He says it aims to paralyze the capabilities of Hamas and prevent it from attacking Israel again.

An Israeli report on a “defect” in Egypt’s management of the border region

European diplomacy revealed, in an interview with Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, that Israel “prepared a report that was reviewed by Washington and a number of European capitals, confirming that Egypt’s management of the border region between Sinai and the Gaza Strip was flawed throughout the past period, in a way that allowed the Hamas movement to build an arsenal.” A large military force that later enabled it to do what it did last October 7.”

It explained that "the report prepared by the Israeli government, which it says is based on information, did not include clear evidence confirming Tel Aviv's story, but it included accusations of gaps in the Egyptian administration of the borders, claiming that those gaps still exist, which necessitates a broad military operation in Rafah, as well as in the Philadelphia axis area parallel to the Egyptian border with Gaza.”

European diplomacy suggested that “the relative shift in the Biden administration’s position, from categorically rejecting the military operation in Rafah to allowing it on the condition that Israel presents a clear and well-calculated plan, ensuring that large numbers of displaced people will not fall in the region, to that report that the Netanyahu government recently promoted.” .

It said, "Despite what Tel Aviv mentioned in the report regarding the situation on the Egyptian border with Gaza, it did not accuse the Egyptian administration of deliberately providing weapons to Hamas, but indicated that this defect may be due to negligence and human failure in performing the tasks of securing the borders."

European diplomacy pointed out that “the Israeli report, which was recently briefed on some European capitals after it demanded that the Netanyahu government withdraw from the Rafah invasion, indicates that Cairo did not express concerns to Tel Aviv during the recent security meetings, nor did it reject military operations in the Philadelphia axis. This contradicts the peace agreement signed between the two sides, but it expressed fears that this would cause the displaced to flock to its lands, which Israel provided assurances that would not happen.”

According to Western diplomats in Cairo, the Israeli government indicated in the report that it had “previously provided military, security and intelligence support to Egypt, during its confrontation with ISIS elements in Sinai, during the past five years, which contradicts what is being promoted regarding the rejection of any military actions in the axis.” "Philadelphia".

Egypt has a buffer zone on its border with Gaza

Diaa Rashwan, head of the Egyptian State Information Service, which is affiliated with the Presidency of the Republic, said, commenting on what was circulated by some international media regarding what is described as Egypt beginning to construct a separation wall on its border with the Gaza Strip, finally, that “Egypt already has, and for a long time before The outbreak of the current crisis created a buffer zone and fences in this region, which are the procedures and measures taken by any country in the world to maintain the security of its borders and sovereignty over its territories.”

In a previous statement, Rashwan described statements by Israeli officials, in which they indicated the existence of smuggling operations of weapons, explosives, ammunition and their components from Egyptian territory to the Gaza Strip, as “false claims and allegations.”

European diplomat: There are real fears of the expansion of the conflict in the Middle East

Another European diplomat told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that his country "was keen to listen to Egyptian officials recently regarding what was raised in the media, whether Egyptian or international, regarding the peace agreement with Israel and its future."

He added: "We received categorical responses in this context, indicating Egypt's adherence to the agreement, and even emphasizing its role as a mediator between the Israelis and Palestinians, but it wants to ensure that its security is not exposed to risks that it will not be able to face at the present time given the economic crisis it is facing."

According to the diplomat, “A high-ranking Egyptian official confirmed that the peace agreement with Israel is outside the scope of any escalation or discrepancy between the two sides, as he stressed at the same time the extent of coordination between Cairo and Tel Aviv, and Egypt’s sponsorship of mediation in order to reach an agreement stipulating the release of Israeli prisoners.” He stops the fire and works to address the roots of the crisis, so that the region is not exposed to greater danger.”

Fears of expanding conflict in the Middle East

On the other hand, a third European diplomat confirmed that "there are real fears of the expansion of the conflict in the Middle East." He told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, “These fears have become an incentive to reject further military measures by Israel, especially what we see as unjustified or that can be replaced by alternative measures.”

He added, "European concerns at the present time are due to the fact that the conflict continues for longer than that, and with the entry of the month of Ramadan (starting in the second week of next March), which has a special character in the Islamic and Arab world, may make European interests clear targets for sabotage." By the angry people.

He continued: “Also, the situation in the Red Sea may slide into a complete closure of the most important trade corridor,” stressing that “European estimates, in this context, believe that the outbreak of a large-scale war on the Lebanese front is no longer a far-fetched occurrence.”

The European diplomat said, "The occurrence of widespread killings in Rafah, if the Israeli army carries out a major military operation there, may signal the beginning of an explosion in the situation on the front with Hezbollah, as well as in the Red Sea on the part of the Houthis." At the same time, he pointed to "European concerns that the expansion of the conflict and the continuation of the crisis will allow the expansion of Russia's role and influence in the Middle East."

He explained that recent days "witnessed European-American consultations regarding the need to put pressure on the Israeli Prime Minister, to dissuade him from invading Rafah or carrying out a large-scale military action that would prolong the conflict." He revealed that "the American administration informed the Europeans of measures that it said would ensure the imposition of restrictions on military actions against civilians in Gaza, as it did against settler leaders in the West Bank."

The European diplomat revealed that the American administration "prepared a report on several incidents that were recently captured by cameras in the war that broke out in Gaza and aroused world public opinion, and asked the Israeli government to provide clear responses regarding them within 40 days, while expressing its readiness to approve sanctions on the soldiers involved in it and their leaders."


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Western diplomats: Efforts to dissuade Netanyahu from invading Rafah have failed