February 5, 2024 | Flash Brief

Egypt Threatens to Suspend Peace Treaty With Israel

February 5, 2024 | Flash Brief

Egypt Threatens to Suspend Peace Treaty With Israel

Latest Developments

Cairo threatened to suspend its peace treaty with Israel if civilians in Gaza are evacuated to Egypt, according to reports on February 5. “If even one Palestinian refugee crosses over,” Egyptian officials reportedly told Israel, “the peace agreement will be nullified.” Cairo’s warning comes days after Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that Israel will “complete the mission” in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis and “continue to Rafah” at the Egyptian border — one of Hamas’s last remaining strongholds in the Gaza Strip. Gallant’s remarks stoked fears in Cairo about the fate of more than 1 million internally displaced Gazans who are currently sheltering in Rafah.

Expert Analysis

“There is no reason for Egyptian suspicion or broader doubtfulness about Israel’s intentions toward Gazans. Today’s Israeli government isn’t interested in annexing the Gaza Strip. The current ground offensive by the Israel Defense Forces seeks to bolster Israel’s security on its side of the border. A non-terrorist entity leading a future Gaza would benefit Egypt on multiple fronts — it would improve Egypt’s security and provide ample opportunities for enhanced trade.” — Haisam Hassanein, FDD Adjunct Fellow

“Israel should continue to pursue the two primary objectives of this war: to dismantle Hamas and to return the over 130 hostages that are being held in Gaza. Neither of these objectives can be met unless the IDF establishes security control of Rafah and secures the Gazan-Egyptian border.” — Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

Egypt Refuses to Admit Gazans

Rafah’s population has quintupled since Israel began its counteroffensive against Hamas in Gaza. Approximately half of Gaza’s 2.2 million residents are now in Rafah “living in makeshift structures, tents or out in the open,” the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted on February 1. OCHA spokesman Jens Laerke expressed “fear for what comes next” as Israel expands operations to Rafah.

Despite mounting humanitarian concerns, Egypt has accepted only a limited number of foreign passport holders and wounded civilians from Gaza since October 7. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi said on October 12 that Egypt will not absorb displaced Gazans because “it’s important for [Gaza’s] people to stay steadfast and exist on its land.” 

If Egypt supports Gazans, it should offer them temporary housing,” by Haisam Hassanein

Egypt Accepts Only Small Number of Temporarily Displaced Gazans,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas Tunnels to Egypt Played Key Role in Arming Hamas,” FDD Flash Brief


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