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Egypt between “Al-Aqsa Flood” and the “Swords of Iron”

The war in the Gaza Strip between Israel and Hamas presents Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi with difficult dilemmas regarding the positions that Egypt should take in relation to this war and its consequences for Egypt and the entire region.

The peace agreement signed in 1979 between Egypt and Israel is a strategic asset for both countries. Since President Sisi came to power in Egypt, the security and economic ties between the countries have tightened and the Israeli military has been helping Cairo stave off ISIS-linked insurgencies in the Sinai. 

President Sisi’s regime relationship with Hamas has been strained due to Hamas’s historic ties with the Muslim Brotherhood. But Egypt has maintained ties with Hamas and other terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip, frequently undertaking the role of an intermediary during periods of turmoil between Gaza and Israel. Egypt is seeking to play a mediator role in the current war in Gaza for both ceasefire and hostage negotiations between Israel and Hamas. 

The events in Gaza have a deep impact on the Egyptian public and on people’s emotions, so feelings of outrage and similarly, feelings of solidarity with the Palestinians, are generally both widely felt in Egypt. 

President Sisi’s regime is looking to handle the situation delicately ahead of Egypt’s December presidential elections in which Sisi is running amid significant public anger due to unprecedented inflation and a debt crisis that Egypt has not experienced before. 

Under Sisi’s regime, Egypt’s position has always been “Egypt first”, and the regime will continue to prioritize Egypt’s interests. Therefore, Egypt will show solidarity through humanitarian aid but an open border and permission of large influx of Palestinian from Gaza to enter the country seems unlikely.

Israel should act decisively to achieve the goals of the war it set for itself in the Gaza Strip, but it should remember that Egypt may play a useful role in the negotiation stages during the war and at its end. Therefore, Israel should preserve the good relations with Egypt and take into account as much as possible Egypt’s difficulties at home and in the international arena. 

It seems that a dialogue with Egypt will make it easier for Israel to achieve its goals in the war in Gaza without harming the vital strategic ties with Egypt.