President Sisi and EU reject any Israeli military action in Rafah

egypt Tue, Mar. 19, 2024
President Abdel Fattah El Sisi stated that he and European Union (EU) leaders unanimously rejected any Israeli military operation in the City of Rafah, recognizing that such action would only worsen the already severe humanitarian crisis in the region.

In a joint press conference with the European Union Commission, the Prime Minister of Belgium, the President of the European Union, and the heads of state and government of Cyprus, Italy, Greece, and Austria, President Sisi said that this Israeli military operation on the Palestinian city of Rafah would liquidate the Palestinian issue, which Egypt unequivocally and absolutely rejects.

“Once again, Egypt reaffirms its unshakeable and immutable rejection of any attempt by Israel to forcibly displace the Palestinian people from their lands, which have been under occupation since 1967, including the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and East Jerusalem,” said President Sisi.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave his approval for a potential ground invasion in Rafah, a move that has been widely criticized by the international community and Israeli allies. The prospect of an Israeli invasion in Rafah has been deemed catastrophic by world countries, as the city is home to over 1.5 million Palestinians.

President Sisi added that there is a need to address the Palestinian issue from a holistic and integrated approach that secures the Palestinian rights to establish their independent state, along the June 4, 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

“The suffering of the Palestinian people across the occupied Palestinian territories over the past decades will show no signs of abating unless there is an acknowledgement of the State of Palestine, enjoying full membership of the United Nations, as well as earnest efforts toward the implementation of the two-state solution, in line with international references,” President Sisi continued.

“The procrastination in resolving this issue exposes, not only the region, but the whole world to a state of instability,” the President said.

Egypt hosted on Sunday a joint summit with the European leaders as both sides signed a joint declaration on strategic and comprehensive partnership, with a financial package of approximately 7.4 billion euros.

At the press conference, President Sisi further said: “Charting a course of deeper relations between Egypt and the European Union has been coupled with a financial package of approximately 7.4 billion euros to bolster the Egyptian economy. This envisages three main components, namely concessional financing, investment guarantees and technical support for the implementation of bilateral cooperation projects.”

It has been agreed between Egypt and the EU to hold a joint investment conference between both sides in the second half of 2024, President Sisi said.

“Our discussions placed special emphasis on energy as a key area for cooperation, with a particular focus on natural gas and electricity interconnection. We agreed to collaborate on green hydrogen production as a clean source of energy, and affirmed our commitment to further advancing this dynamic cooperation within the framework of “The East Mediterranean Gas Forum,” the President continued.

Regarding Egypt’s efforts against illegal migration, President Sisi said that Egypt has effectively curbed the influx of illegal migration from Egyptian coasts since 2006 and hosts 9 million foreigners, who are enjoying the same social and health services as Egyptian citizens.

In her speech, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that the EU shares significant interests with Egypt, and her visit to Cairo underscores the robustness of bilateral relations and partnership, built upon six key pillars and areas of cooperation between Egypt and the European Union.

She added that they have jointly decided to convene this summit every two years, to actively pursue investment and strategic plans. Additionally, She affirmed the enhancement of the electrical interconnection program between Egypt and Greece, recognizing Cairo's potential to emerge as an energy hub in the region.

She stressed on maintaining a commendable level of cooperation on the issue of illegal immigration, Praising Egypt's committed role in addressing this challenge.

In his speech, Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides said that Egypt plays an important role in reaching a ceasefire agreement in the Gaza Strip, praising Egypt's partnership with his country. “Today witnesses the beginning of a new era between Egypt and the European Union,” he said.

“Today, we took substantial steps to make each other stronger in addressing common challenges and to enhance the potentials of our partnership,” he added.

“Egypt has a political role in dealing with crises from Sudan to Palestine, and the Red Sea,” Christodoulides continued, saying “I want to underline again that the displacement in Gaza is unacceptable.”

“It is crucial to deliver more aid to Gaza," noting that his country under the EU leadership has participated in creating a sea humanitarian corridor,” he said.

For his part, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said that the security and stability of Egypt is of great importance to the European Union, noting that the Comprehensive and Strategic Partnership has been signed during a period marked by tensions in the Middle East.

The Greek Prime Minister also expressed that EU leaders are deeply concerned about the situation in Gaza, emphasizing that any military offensive in Rafah is unacceptable, further stating that achieving a ceasefire in Gaza and securing the release of hostages are imperative. He also called for opening all routes for aid delivery.

For her part, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni called for continuing to work hard to develop a memorandum of understanding to enhance strategic cooperation with Egypt.

She also praised Egypt's efforts with the United States to achieve a truce in the Gaza Strip, adding that Italy worked with Egypt to support the development plan in Africa.

The EU has a strategic and important partnership with Egypt, and will deliver more investments and more job opportunities, especially for the young generations, said Prime Minister of Belgium Alexander De Croo, adding that the EU will help Egypt address the challenges and cooperate in routing out the illegal migration.

He added that this strategic partnership will stemming the illegal migration, besides enhancing the cooperation between both sides amid ongoing wars on Ukraine and on Gaza. De Croo also continued that Egypt has exerted great efforts in fighting human trafficking and smuggling networks.