Gantz acknowledges strained relations with Egypt over Gaza offensive

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Jerusalem (Anadolu Agency)

Middle East Monitor  /  August 22, 2022

Israel’s Defence Minister Benny Gantz has acknowledged that relations between the occupation state and Egypt are strained against the backdrop of the recent Israeli military offensive in Gaza.

“I definitely think there have been days of tensions stemming from the end of Operation Breaking Dawn,” Gantz told Kan Bet radio. “Relations between friends have up and downs… without going into some specific incident or another, we will know how to stabilize the relations. It is their interest and ours. We don’t need to take every crisis and turn into the single most important thing. I hope it will blow over in the next few days.”

According to the Israel Broadcasting Corporation, the head of Israel’s Shin Bet internal spy agency, Ronen Bar, left for Egypt on Sunday to discuss the crisis with the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence, Major General Abbas Kamel.

In recent days, Israeli and international reports have spoken of a political crisis between Egypt and Israel, due to the occupation state ignoring Cairo’s demands to reduce tension in the occupied West Bank. Tension has increased in the wake of the military escalation in the Gaza Strip in the first week of August. There was no official comment from the Egyptians about this crisis or the visit of the Shin Bet head.

Egypt mediated a ceasefire between Israel and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip which came into effect on 7 August after three days of a military bombardment during which the Israeli army killed 49 people and wounded 360 others, including women and children. The Israeli army then carried out a series of operations to arrest Palestinians in the cities of Jenin, Nablus and Tubas, during which a number of Palestinians were also killed.

According to Islamic Jihad, Egypt committed itself to work towards the release of two Palestinian prisoners, hunger striker Khalil Awawdeh and Bassam al-Saadi as part of the truce agreement. However, Israel has refused to release them.

In a wide-ranging interview, Gantz also said that Israel is against the nuclear agreement between the international powers and Iran. He claimed that it is a bad agreement in terms of several areas related to Iran’s enrichment capacity and the development of its nuclear capabilities and weapons systems.

The Israeli official pointed out that he discussed the issue with US President Joe Biden during his visit to the region last month, and that Biden was very attentive, but only reiterated his commitment to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. Gantz noted that he is unsure that the agreement in its current form serves what Biden said.

In terms of relations with the Palestinians, the former chief of staff called for opposition to the establishment of a single, bi-national state, wherein Jews and Arabs could live together. He told the radio station that it is essential to prevent the creation of such a state.

“Those who, from a clear left-wing position, consider ‘two states for two peoples’ as a solution are living in an illusion,” he explained. “And those who, in a radical right-wing position, think of a state without Arabs in the West Bank, are living in a greater illusion.”

____

Tensions between Egypt, Israel: Army Radio says 

Middle East Monitor  /  August 22, 2022

Egyptian-Israeli relations have witnessed tensions in recent months, Palestinian news website Safa reported, citing Israel’s Army Radio.

Tensions rose nearly two months ago when Israeli fighter jets intercepted an unarmed Egyptian drone that had crossed the Egyptian border with Israel by mistake.

Cairo also expressed its discontent after the emergence of Israeli media reports suggesting the existence of an unmarked mass grave near Jerusalem containing the remains of Egyptian soldiers who died in the 1967 War. The radio station added that Israel is seeking to search for the Egyptian soldiers’ burial site and return their remains to Cairo.

It noted that Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid contacted Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in an effort to ease tension, promising to do everything necessary to find the mass grave.

For years, Cairo has mediated between Israel and the Palestinians. Most recently it mediated the ceasefire between Palestinian resistance factions and Israel bringing an end to three days of Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip which killed 49 Palestinians, including 17 children.

____

Shin Bet chief visits Egypt to improve ties with Israel

Middle East Monitor  /  August 22, 2022

Israel’s Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar visited Egypt to hold meetings with officials in an attempt to mend fences with Cairo.

Ronen Bar met with Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel, who recently cancelled a scheduled visit to Israel in protest at Tel Aviv’s arrest and killing of Islamic Jihad members in Nablus despite the Cairo-brokered ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian group.

Israel’s Army Radio recently revealed that there has been a crisis in relations with Egypt for the past two months. The crisis worsened further after the latest developments in Nablus.

Egypt and Israel signed a peace agreement in 1979, by virtue of which they normalized relations. Like his predecessors, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi maintained close ties and bilateral military and intelligence cooperation with the occupation state.

Tensions rose nearly two months ago when Israeli fighter jets intercepted an unarmed Egyptian drone that had crossed the Egyptian border with Israel by mistake.

Cairo also expressed its discontent after the emergence of Israeli media reports suggesting the existence of an unmarked mass grave near Jerusalem containing the remains of Egyptian soldiers who died in the 1967 June WarIsrael Radio added that Israel is seeking to search for the Egyptian soldiers’ burial site and return their remains to Cairo.

It noted that Israel’s Prime Minister Yair Lapid contacted Al-Sisi in an effort to ease tension, promising to do everything necessary to find the mass grave.