Monday, September 08, 2014

Egypt's Newly Minted Peace Plan

Egypt Proposes Extending Gaza into Sinai for Palestinian State
- Aliel Shahar

Israel Army radio reported that Egyptian President al-Sisi offered to provide the Palestinians with an area in Sinai five times larger than Gaza and adjacent to it to establish a Palestinian state. The Palestinian refugees would return to this country and it would be demilitarized. 
(IDF Radio-IMRA)

Egypt offers to absorb Palestinians. Why did Abbas refuse?
-Jonathan Tobin

When the Egyptian government reached out to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas recently, one surprising and one predictable thing happened. The tale of this offer and its rejection tells us all we need to know about Palestinian politics and the changing political landscape of the Middle East.

The Palestinian Ma'an News Agency reports that in a speech given to members of his Fatah Party this week, Abbas said that the Egyptian government had made a startling offer to the PA. The Egyptians told Abbas that they were willing to cede a 618-square mile area of the Sinai adjacent to Gaza for resettlement of the Palestinian refugees, an idea first floated by former Israeli National Security Adviser Giora Eiland.

The remarkable thing about this is the decision of the Sisi government to embrace such a practical solution to the long, sad tale of the 1948 Palestinian refugees and their descendants. Like the rest of the Arab world, the Egyptians were never interested in resettling the refugees anywhere, let alone on a huge swath of the Sinai next door to Gaza.

Egypt's offer to the PA is a healthy sign that many in the Arab world are rising above their hatred for Israel and ready to make peace, if not for the sake of the Jews then to help them combat the Islamist terror threat. That is a remarkable thing that should be celebrated. The Palestinian refusal is, however, a very unremarkable confirmation of the fact that they remain unready and unwilling to make peace.
[Jewish World Review]

Israeli politicians praise Sisi plan -Lahav Harkov

Israeli politicians responded enthusiastically to reports that Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was willing to give Palestinians land in Sinai adjacent to Gaza for a state.

Army Radio reported that Sisi had offered Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas 1,600 square kilometers in Sinai to expand the Gaza Strip to five times its current size. According to the plan, the territory would serve as a Palestinian state under the complete control of the PA.

In addition to the "Greater Gaza State," the cities currently in the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank would be under the autonomous rule of the PA. In exchange, Abbas would give up claims to a state within the pre-1967 lines.
[Jerusalem Post]


Sisi's proposal is a windfall. [I]t indicates that the Egyptian-Saudi- UAE decision to back Israel against Hamas in Operation Protective Edge was not a fluke. It was part of an epic shift in their strategic assessments.

And if their regimes survive, their assessments are unlikely to change so long as Iran and the Sunni jihadists continue to threaten them. This means that for the first time since Israel allied with Britain and France against Egypt in 1956, Israel can make strategic plans as part of a coalition.

Sisi's offer demonstrates that for non-jihadist Sunnis, not only is Israel not the problem in the Middle East, a strong Israel is a prerequisite for solving the region's troubles. Here is a major Arab leader willing to stand with Israel even if it means discrediting the PLO .

As a consequence, Sisi's offer is a challenge to the US and Europe.

Sisi's offer shows Washington and Brussels that to solve the Palestinian conflict with Israel, they need to stand with Israel, even if this means abandoning Abbas.
[Jewish World Review]

Egyptian President Denies Offering Part of Sinai to Palestinians 

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has denied news reports of his approval of the expansion of the Gaza Strip into Sinai.     
(Al-Masry Al-Youm-Egypt)
Note: Just because al-Sisi now denies the report, does not mean he did not make the offer. It just means he denies it publicly.  He waited several days to issue this denial. 

Assessing Change in Today's Middle East - Robert Satloff 

I don't believe the news stories that Sisi offered a piece of Sinai to the Palestinians to create a state. But one should appreciate the core reality - that Israel and Egypt view the regional situation in a similar way and act on that convergence of analysis and interests. This is one of the most hopeful elements of the Middle East today.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

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