Would the global trade come to a standstill as supply chain crisis worsens?    EBRD vice president heads delegation to Egypt to discuss new country strategy    The unvaccinated prohibited from entry to Egypt state institutions starting December 1    Egypt, Cyprus sign deal for electricity grid link    Russia to lift COVID restrictions on flights to Egypt's Red Sea resorts on Nov. 9    Egypt, Greece ink deal for first subsea power link between Europe and Africa    Egypt hosts regional conference of EU refugee agency EASO    SCOHRE sparks discussion on harm reduction, tobacco control    Egypt to receive first of six high-trains from Spain's Talgo in mid-November    Egypt's iron and steel exports jump 197% in 8 months    Ethiopia halts work at its embassy in Egypt for 'economic reasons'    It's a bit frustrating to draw at home: Real Madrid keeper after Villarreal game    Russia says it's in sync with US, China, Pakistan on Taliban    Shoukry reviews with Guterres Egypt's efforts to achieve SDGs, promote human rights    Sudan says countries must cooperate on vaccines    Over 100 officials resign from Tunisia's main Islamist party    Johnson & Johnson: Second shot boosts antibodies and protection against COVID-19    Egypt to tax bloggers, YouTubers    Egyptian court bans use of mosques for political purposes    Brazil calls up 8 EPL players for World Cup qualifying    Refugees in fear as sentiment turns against them in Turkey    We mustn't lose touch: Muller after Bayern win in Bundesliga    Egypt records 36 new deaths from Covid-19, highest since mid June    Egypt sells $3 bln US-dollar dominated eurobonds    Sisi calls on House, Senate to commence second legislative sessions on 3, 5 October    Huawei Technologies has invested $10 mln over 5 years in innovation centres in Egypt    Gamal Hanafy's ceramic exhibition at Gezira Arts Centre is a must go    Italian Institute Director Davide Scalmani presents activities of the Cairo Institute for ITALIANA.IT platform    Qa'a play showing at Lycee El Horreya Theatre, Alexandria is a must go    Orange Egypt Introduces Amazon Prime Video    Tokyo Olympics: Cautious opening ceremony, shy start for Egyptians in competitions    Mallawi Museum in Upper Egypt holds recycling workshop for children during Eid Al-Adha    Egypt keen on stable tax policies to attract more investors: Finance Minister    Sudan declares state of emergency as water goes beyond Merowe Dam capacity    Niagara Falls illuminated in Egyptian flag to mark 23 July Revolution anniversary    Capital flows into EM keep recovering after March 2020 slump: Central Bank of Egypt    1 child orphaned every 12 seconds due to COVID-19-associated death: World Bank    Egypt, Japanese Olympic Committee discuss boosting sports cooperation    US emphasises AU's role in mediating Ethiopian damdispute    Ethiopia ready to resume dam talks with no legally binding agreements: Ethiopian official    Sunken city of Thônis-Heracleion in Egypt's Abu Qir bay yields new archaeological treasures    New films, concerts, and destinations for Eid Al-Adha holidays    Egypt, Oman discuss enhancing bilateral economic, investment relations    Al Ahly v Kaizer Chiefs: Cairo giants eye 10th CAF Champions League title    Tunisia hopes to have a UN role in resolving Egypt-Ethiopia dam dispute    APO Group enters new exclusive agreement with Getty Images on African press releases and images    On International Museum Day, Egypt opens two new museums at Cairo Airport    Old Cairo's Al-Fustat will be revamped on Egyptian President's directives    







Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.



Cairo's pursuit of peace
Published in Ahram Online on 14 - 09 - 2021

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi received Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett in Sharm El-Sheikh on Monday. The meeting, arranged last month during head of Egyptian General Intelligence Service Abbas Kamel's visit to Jerusalem, is part of Egypt's ongoing efforts to revive the Palestinian-Israeli peace process.
President Al-Sisi used the meeting to reaffirm Cairo's support for peace within the framework of a two-state solution and relevant international resolutions, and underscored the importance of international support for Egypt's reconstruction drive in Palestinian areas devastated during the last Israeli war against Gaza.
The Israeli prime minister described the meeting as "important and very good", adding "we have created a foundation for a deep connection for the future."
Cairo's efforts have brought the Palestinian file to the forefront after a decade during which it was relegated to the back seat, a source who preferred to remain anonymous told Al-Ahram Weekly.
Recent weeks have witnessed multilateral action to reinvigorate the Palestinian-Israeli peace process. During Bennett's visit to Washington in the last week of August, US President Joe Biden stressed that a two-state solution was "the only viable path" to a lasting resolution of the conflict. In the first week of September, Sharm El-Sheikh was the venue for a trilateral summit between President Al-Sisi, King Abdullah II of Jordan, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: their aim, "to work together to develop a vision for reactivating efforts to resume negotiations, and to work with brothers and partners to revive the peace process… on the basis of the two-state solution."
The arrangements for the meeting between Al-Sisi and Bennett were finalised a week before the visit by an Israeli national security delegation to Egypt. According to Israeli reports and official statements, the Israeli delegation discussed a range of issues with Egyptian authorities, including the resumption of air traffic and the revival of Israeli tourism to Taba, the Palestinian question and the possibility of reviving the peace process, the East Mediterranean Gas Forum, and Egyptian-Israeli economic relations.
Egyptian sources stress that Cairo's priorities are focused on peace-making, and have been lent impetus by Biden's support. Egypt, they say, is keen to grasp new opportunities now that any prospects of implementing the deal of the century, proposed by the previous administration in Washington, have faded.
But is there any real chance of kick-starting peace talks?
Sources in Cairo say that while the deal of the century had little, if any chance, of injecting new life into a process that ground to a halt 14 years ago, prospects now hinge on the US and Israeli positions.
Since being elected Biden has repeatedly reiterated his commitment to a two-state solution and pledged to pursue all possible avenues to achieve it. There are, however, complicating factors. One was evidenced during Bennett's visit to Washington when he forced Israel's perspective on Iran onto the agenda. To Israel, this question outweighs reviving peace talks.
A second factor centres on Israel's attempts to advance its plan for what it terms "economic peace in exchange for security". Biden has indicated that his administration could work with Bennett on such a scheme until a clear initiative emerges to revive the peace process.
Israel Foreign Minister Yair Lapid has outlined Israel's vision for changing the economic realities of Gaza. Speaking at Reichman University in Israel, Lapid said that a blend of international investment, Israeli-Palestinian cooperation and a quiescent Hamas could change the lives of ordinary inhabitants of Gaza for the better. "Political conditions — in Israel and in the Palestinian Authority — don't allow for diplomatic progress at the moment, but in Gaza we can, and we should, act now," he said.
Cairo sees the Israeli position as an attempt to stabilise the truce with Hamas while deferring matters relating to Israel's relationship with the Palestinian Authority, something it rejects in both form and substance.
Israeli talk of economic peace is hardly new. It was promoted by Benjamin Netanyahu in 1996, and suggested again during the 2007-2013 tenure of former Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad. "This proposal was unacceptable to both the Egyptians and Palestinians, though it was dusted down and put on the table once again as part of the deal of the century proposed by Trump," said the source.
Kick-starting the peace process, then, appears to be stuck in square one, with the central question whether or not Israel can commit to taking a courageous step towards the two-state solution. Observers in Cairo believe Bennett's fragile coalition government will collapse if it makes so much as a gesture in this direction. They also believe that Bennett is loath to pursue a foreign policy course that would give his coalition partner and current foreign minister — Lapid will assume the premiership in two years in accordance with the coalition's rotation deal — a chance to shine.
Current efforts are an attempt to pave the way for the peace process given the current absence of any common ground, says the anonymous Egyptian source.
Though chances of resuming the long-stalled Palestinian-Israeli peace process are slim, sources in Cairo believe that the meeting between Al-Sisi and Bennett did produce some positive results. They see encouraging signs of the possibility of transforming the Egyptian-mediated Gaza ceasefire into a durable truce, thereby averting a return to military escalation. They also believe some progress has been made on the prisoner exchange question and on clearing the way for the Gaza reconstruction drive that Egypt is overseeing in collaboration with the UN.
Mustafa Al-Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, told the Weekly from Ramallah that the "recent flurry of activity, including the meeting in Sharm El-Sheikh, may contribute to solving some issues, including on the ceasefire and better treatment for Palestinian prisoners, but will have little impact on the peace process itself. The Israelis, says Al-Barghouti — and he includes not only Bennett and Lapid but the whole spectrum of elite Israeli society — are all right-leaning, and strong believers in what the deal of the century had to offer. "Current efforts may improve the situation regarding some issues," he concludes, "but as far as the Palestinian cause goes, it is too early to talk about any breakthrough."
*A version of this article appears in print in the 16 September, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly


Clic here to read the story from its source.