The war being waged in Gaza is as complex as it is deplorable. The risk to the Palestinian lives being encircled and hemmed in by the Israeli Defence forces has created an atmosphere of despair. In neighbouring Egypt, President Abdel Fattah el Sisi has expressed unwillingness for his country to absorb the entirety of Gaza’s 2.2 million Palestinians who could face displacement from the territory as a result of the Hamas-Israeli war.1 “My assessment is that it is a 95 percent non-starter,” according to Nancy Okail the President and CEO of the Centre for International policy, a progressive non-profit in Washington DC.2 The majority of Palestinians were expelled from their homeland 1948 during the creation of the state of Israel – The event of which is referred to as the Nakhba or catastrophe in Arabic.3 (Al Jazeera)
“The question of Palestinian rights has always been a popular cause in Egypt, according to Okail, who told Al Jazeera.4 “If el-Sisi acquiesces to pressure to absorb Gaza’s population, he could trigger widespread outrage and protests.5 The political cost for [aiding the displacement of Palestinians] could be el-Sisi’s presidency,” Okail stated in an interview with Al Jazeera.5 Such a move, Okail said, would likely be interpreted as helping Israel to expand and entrench its occupation in Palestinian territories.6 Any resulting unrest could prompt the military to topple el-Sisi in order to restore order, she added.7 (Al Jazeera)
How would el-Sissi aide in the displacement of the Palestinians? By not negotiating a ceasefire is one way.
So, the Egyptian president is held in a quagmire. If he complies with allowing the Palestinians to leave Gaza and settle in the Sinai, which is in Egyptian territory, then he could face being toppled by mass protests like his predecessors Muhammad Hosni Mubarak and Muhammad Morsi. El Sisi could face exile as a result or be put on trial for his crimes. However, all this sounds like wishful thinking about a dictator who is seeking his third term in power. Israel under Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is not at all popular amongst the ordinary masses of the Arab World. This is especially true of Egypt and Jordan where Israel has peace treaties with. In fact, any displacement of the Palestinian population to these countries will be seen as an abandonment of those treaties in question and an end to diplomatic relations as well.
Even President of the Palestinian Authority (PA) Mahmoud Abbas has spoken up about the crisis at hand. This followed the leakage of the report known as a ‘thinking document’ that exposed the proposal to displace the Palestinian people to Egypt’s Sinai.
In a statement given to the Associated Press (AP) in response to the Israeli Report, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Abbas’ office stated “What happened in 1948 will not be allowed to happen again,” Abu Rudeineh went on to say, “We are against transfer to any place, in any form, and we consider it a red line that we will not allow to be crossed.”8 “What happened in 1948 will not be allowed to happen again,” Abu Rudeineh said, adding that a mass displacement would be “tantamount to declaring a new war.”9 While el-Sissi has not commented directly on the leaked document, he has repeatedly and staunchly opposed becoming a party to efforts by Israel to displace Palestinians.10 “We are not going to permit that to happen,” he said last week, adding that the prospect of displacement endangered the “Palestinian cause.”11 (NBC News)
So, both Egypt and the Palestinian Authority are opposed to the further displacement of the Palestinian people. I also expect Jordan and Lebanon are also opposed to the Israeli plans for further displacement given that this would overwhelm them with refugees. Israel has already abused its position as regards to forcing Palestinians off their land and out of their homes in the West Bank. Egypt for its part if it doesn’t want the displacement of the Palestinians from Gaza to take place should negotiate a ceasefire, and the release of whatever Israeli hostages, Hamas is holding. Cairo has the most to lose if another “Nakhba” were to take place. Tel Aviv for its part needs the Egyptians to have a stable state to prevent the rise of any militant cells in the Sinai. This includes Hamas. The PLO/Fatah faction also has its part to play in calling for the release of the Hostages.
The regime of President Mahmoud Abbas needs to bring Hamas back into the fold, while Cairo, Aman, Beirut and all relevant parties in the international community need to press for a ceasefire.