Has Egypt Abandoned Palestinian Quest?

Has Egypt Abandoned Palestinian Quest?

© Photo: Reuters. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi speaks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting as part of an effort to revive the Middle East peace process ahead of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, U.S., September 19, 2017

.

A set of leaked audiotapes reveal that the Egyptian government has all but abandoned its solidarity with the Palestinian people. 

In secret conversations  unearthed  by  The New York Times, government intelligence officials pushed talk show hosts to peddle a government narrative accepting Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the “undivided” capital of Israel, despite a public facade of outrage over the move. 

The actual government position: that while Palestinians’ rights deserve to be heard at some level, Egypt accepts Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, as Egypt has more pressing security concerns that is shares with Israel. 

In other words,  Egypt and Israel’s alliance  takes precedence over Egypt’s alliance with Palestine, which now looks more myth than reality. 

“How is Jerusalem different from Ramallah, really?” the intelligence official, Captain Kholi is heard speaking with talk show hosts, encouraging them to publically push the message that antagonism against Israel is not worth it. 

“We, like all our Arab brothers, are denouncing this matter,” but the fact of the matter is that “this thing [Jerusalem’s recognition as the capital of Israel] will become a reality. Palestinians can’t resist and we don’t want to go to war. We have enough on our plate as you know,” Kholi said to the hosts. 

Even though Egypt and Israel have slowly become closer regional partners, the leaked audiotapes reveal the extent to Egypt’s acquiescence to its former enemy.  

Egypt has historically been one of the strongest military powers against Israel, spearheading wars against Israel in 1948, 1967 and again in 1973–the last of which Egypt initiated as a way to retake the Sinai Peninsula. 

Arab leaders have historically been staunch supporters of Palestine and opponents of Israel, but that solidarity has rung hollow, and the Palestinian people are increasingly alone in the fight for their future. 

Saudi Arabia, which enjoys heavy influence with Egypt, has reportedly been pressuring other Arab states to  accept Trump’s Jerusalem move.  Saudi has also been working closely with Trump’s team in the Middle East to work out an Israeli/Palestinian deal–one that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was pressed to accept by Saudi delegates. 

In a recent analysis  by  Al Bawaba, Middle East expert and Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, Dr. Barak Mendelsohn, said that “hardly anyone really cares about the Palestinian issue anymore… Arab states such as Saudi Arabia may be less likely to come out with their warming relations with Israel but as long as shared interests dictate cooperation it will continue to take place.” 

Captain Kholi, on tape, echoed exactly this sentiment, telling the talk show hosts, “The point that is dangerous for us is the intifada issue… An intifada would not serve Egypt’s national security interests because an intifada would revive the Islamists and Hamas. Hamas would be reborn once more.” 

For their part, the hosts were receptive to the government’s message. One host who is also a member of parliament, Saeed Hassaseen, verbally submitted to Kholi: “Give me orders, sir… I am at your command.” 

The Egyptian state’s burgeoning relationship with Israel and Saudi Arabia is part of a geopolitical axis that  includes the United States, and the UAE who all are focused on preventing the rise of Iran, treating the Palestinian cause as one that is culturally important but ultimately a comparatively minor and less immediate concern. 

As a result of this, it is becoming clearer that Arab leadership is no longer willing to seriously push for a two-state solution, a plan to create both an Israeli state and Palestinian state whereby Jerusalem is under international control rather than the control of one state. 


 

More on the Mashreq

Menu Title