Egypt Quietly Alters Ceasefire Proposal, Stalling Gaza Peace Talks

Egyptian intelligence officials quietly changed the terms of a ceasefire proposal that Israel had already agreed to earlier this month, ultimately derailing a potential deal that could have released Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners, and temporarily halted the fighting in Gaza, according to CNN, which cited three sources familiar with the discussions.

The ceasefire agreement announced by Hamas on May 6 differed from what the Qataris, Americans, and Israelis believed had been submitted for final review. The undisclosed changes made by Egyptian intelligence led to anger and frustration among officials from the US, Qatar, and Israel, leaving ceasefire talks at a standstill.

CIA Director Bill Burns, who has been leading the American efforts to broker a ceasefire, was reportedly furious and embarrassed upon learning of the changes made by the Egyptians, as he believed it made him appear uninformed or that he had failed to notify the Israelis of the alterations.

Sources revealed that a senior Egyptian intelligence official, Ahmed Abdel Khalek, was responsible for the changes, allegedly telling the Israelis one thing and Hamas another. More of Hamas’ demands were inserted into the original framework that Israel had tacitly agreed to, without informing the other mediators or the Israelis.

The incident has raised questions about Egypt’s motives, as the country has long served as a key intermediary between Israel and Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he hopes Egypt understands that Israel cannot agree to terms that would allow Hamas to attack again.

Efforts to salvage the proposal were made by Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani and CIA Director Burns, but the talks remain stalled. If negotiations resume, it is expected that Qatar will play a larger role, although Egypt’s proximity to Hamas and Israel’s preference for Egypt over Qatar suggest that Egypt will remain central to the process.

The discussions are expected to focus on a framework that includes the release of up to 33 Israeli hostages over at least six weeks, with disagreements over the inclusion of dead hostages and the timing of the phases.

At this point, Egypt’s intentions remain unclear, or to put it more accurately: unverified. 

A clash between Egypt and Israel?

A clash seems more likely than ever. Journalist Dr. Abdellatif El-Menawy wrote on Arab News that on a level that has not been seen in maybe 45 years, Egyptian media through official news channels, have intensified its criticism of Israel.

According to El-Menawy, the primary source of contention stems from Israel’s alleged plans to resettle Palestinians from Gaza to the Sinai Peninsula, a move that Egypt vehemently opposes.

Since the beginning of Israel’s military operations in Gaza, Egypt has consistently warned against any forced displacement of residents from the Strip. The intensity of Egypt’s stance has escalated in recent weeks, particularly following Israeli incursions into the border town of Rafah. Egyptian officials have strongly protested against Israel’s actions, asserting that the 1979 peace treaty between the two nations is at risk, with some even hinting at a potential reduction in diplomatic ties and the recall of their ambassador from Tel Aviv.

Egypt’s rejection of the resettlement plan is not a new development, as it has been a long-standing position dating back to the negotiations with Israel in the 1970s. Former Egyptian presidents, including Anwar Sadat and Hosni Mubarak, have steadfastly refused similar proposals in the past, viewing them as a threat to national security and a violation of Egypt’s fundamental principles supporting the Palestinian right to a safe and stable life in their homeland.

Despite Egypt’s firm stance, Israel’s insistence on the resettlement plan persists, potentially leading to a clash between the two nations. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that an Egyptian official suggested Cairo might lower its diplomatic relations with Israel by recalling its ambassador, though not severing ties entirely, in response to the Israeli military operations in Rafah.

Egypt has also threatened to support South Africa’s lawsuit against Israel at the International Court of Justice, citing the intensifying Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians in Gaza, systematic targeting of civilians, destruction of infrastructure, and efforts to force Palestinians to flee their land. The Egyptian parliament’s Human Rights Committee has announced that it possesses evidence and proof to support Egypt’s participation in the case before the international court.

Information for this story was found via CNN, Arab News, and the sources and companies mentioned. The author has no securities or affiliations related to the organizations discussed. Not a recommendation to buy or sell. Always do additional research and consult a professional before purchasing a security. The author holds no licenses.

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