Egypt's president Sisi tells US delegation displacement from Gaza to North Sinai will not happen

Egypt's president Sisi tells US delegation displacement from Gaza to North Sinai will not happen
Israeli politicians want Gaza's population expelled to Egypt's North Sinai region and settlers to replace Palestinians in the coastal enclave.
3 min read
Egypt - Cairo
04 January, 2024
The Egyptian president met in Cairo on Wednesday with a US delegation [Christophe Ena/Pool/AFP via Getty]

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Wednesday reiterated to US lawmakers Cairo's rejection of possible plans to forcibly displace Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Egypt’s once-restive North Sinai province.

Sisi met in the Egyptian capital with a delegation of Democrat and Republican politicians, who were visiting Egypt as part of a regional tour.

The meeting came a day after Saleh al-Arouri, deputy leader of the Palestinian group Hamas, was killed in an Israeli drone strike in the Lebanese capital Beirut, greatly increasing regional tensions.

In the meeting, Sisi stressed the importance of reaching a new ceasefire deal to protect civilians and ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, according to a statement from the Egyptian presidency.

It had been reported earlier on Wednesday that Egypt had withdrawn as a mediator from negotiations between Hamas, which holds power in Gaza, and the Israeli government, in response to the murder of Arouri.

Sisi’s meeting with the US delegation was preceded by another with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who warned that any possible plans to push Gazans into neighbouring North Sinai will jeopardise regional stability.

In recent months, the Egyptian government has expressed concerns over a possible forced mass expulsion of Palestinians from Gaza to the Sinai region.

In October last year, Sisi made controversial remarks about the possibility of moving the Palestinians from Gaza to the Israeli Negev desert instead of Sinai, "until Israel is capable of defeating Hamas and Islamic Jihad". After the defeat of the two groups, "Palestinians could return to their homeland", Sisi proposed.

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Egypt's concern that Israel is attempting to forcibly displace the Palestinians of Gaza into the Sinai dates back to the 1950s, but has increased considerably since Israel launched its war on Gaza on October 7.

These worries seemed confirmed when Israel recently ordered Palestinians in Gaza to evacuate the north of the enclave for the south, close to the Egypt border.

Several leading Israeli politicians and government officials have called or planned for the ethnic cleansing of Gaza, with the area to be repopulated by settlers.

During Wednesday’s meeting, FM Shoukry called on key international players, including the US, to fulfill their responsibility to help end Israeli violations in Gaza.

Shoukry said that "the sensitivity of the turbulent regional and international situations requires intensifying means of coordination and joint action to establish peace, security, and stability in the Middle East."

Egypt's top diplomat also called for implementation of a ceasefire in Gaza as the ongoing Israeli onslaught on the enclave enters its fourth month, with more than 22,000 killed and thousands of others missing.

More than 80 percent of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million people have been displaced from their homes since Israel began its air and ground assault.