Egypt warns it could suspend Camp David peace treaty if Israel storms Rafah
Egypt has warned that it could suspend its peace treaty with Israel if the Israeli military enters Rafah in southern Gaza, or if Palestinian refugees are forced toward the Sinai Peninsula, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
Israeli ground troops are planning to storm Rafah, the Gaza Strip’s last major urban centre, which has not yet seen an Israeli incursion. Dozens have already been killed there in airstrikes.
Israel’s Western allies and Arab states are warning Tel Aviv of a humanitarian catastrophe if it invades the city, which is crammed with hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians.
Rafah sits on Gaza's border with Egypt, where there are growing concerns that Israel could use its war to displace Palestinians across the border into North Sinai, a scheme vehemently rejected by Cairo.
Egyptian officials have informed their Israeli counterparts through Western intermediaries that any attempt to push Palestinians into the Sinai "would effectively suspend" the 1979 peace treaty, The Wall Street Journal cited a senior Western diplomat as saying.
The developments come as reports emerge of Egypt working to increase the height of the concrete border wall with Gaza and install barbed wire in a bid to deter any Palestinians from attempting to cross into the Sinai.
Israeli officials have also been considering bolstering the wall by installing a 'smart border' between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, a plan which was quickly rebuffed by the Egyptians.
Egypt was the first Arab state to normalise ties with Israel, despite widespread opposition from the Egyptian public.
"This shows that Israel does not respect the peace treaties it signed with Arab countries.”— The New Arab (@The_NewArab) January 26, 2024
Philadelphi Corridor: How Gaza's border could be a tipping point in Egypt-Israel ties: https://t.co/yUC4RkwTh0
But tensions have escalated between the two countries since the start of Israel’s war on Gaza which has killed over 28,000 people since October 7.
As well as remarks made by Israeli officials about expelling the Palestinians from Gaza, Israel has also expressed the intention to enter the Philadelphi Corridor area, a 14-kilometre route that runs along Gaza's southern border with Egypt.
Cairo has so far refused to allow Israel to establish control of the land corridor.
Egypt, along with Qatar and the US, are trying to mediate a ceasefire deal between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, which Israel has vowed to destroy.