Egypt is working on a “long-term truce” between terrorist factions in the Gaza Strip and Israel, the London-based The New Arab news site reported on Sunday.
The report comes several weeks after Cairo brokered an end to the brief war (“Operation Shield and Arrow”) between Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group in Gaza and as the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi continues to play an active role in the affairs of the Strip, with which it shares a border.
According to Egyptian sources familiar with the mediation efforts, Cairo has conveyed the message that the senior Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad officials should attend the new round of talks in Cairo in person because “the leaders will be looking at highly sensitive files.”
One of the Egyptian sources told the pan-Arab news site that the meeting comes amid new international and regional understandings involving the United States, Qatar and Egypt that will “include broader roles for Cairo in terms of its presence in the Gaza Strip” and necessitate the direct involvement of the leaders of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
“There have been consultations during the last period between Egyptian and Iranian security officials regarding the situation in the Gaza Strip and the occupied territories, due to Tehran’s role in supporting Hamas and the Islamic Jihad,” the source said.
Another Egyptian source said the plan includes an expansion of trade with Gaza through the establishment in the Strip of a subsidiary port of Sinai’s el-Arish Port to be administered by Egypt.
It also includes a highway to be constructed linking Gaza with the city of el-Arish, the largest in the Sinai Peninsula. The highway would be used to transport goods from Gaza to the Egyptian port for export abroad and import into the Strip.
Also under discussion as part of the plan: Egypt supplying Gaza with electricity that would involve a large project starting at 100 megawatts and increasing from there in stages, possibly to 300 MW.
The final part of the plan involves exploiting the natural gas reserves off the Gaza coast.
According to the report, Egypt is hesitant to get involved in managing a port inside Gaza because Cairo would be held responsible by Israel and the international community if the port is used to bring weapons into the Strip. The Egyptians would therefore want a broad security role in the Strip that the Palestinian terrorist factions would not accept.