Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Why Egypt is staying quiet on Israel’s West Bank annexation plan

Two weeks ago, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi flew by helicopter to visit Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in his presidential palace in Ramallah.
His Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry, was also invited along. Photos from the event were meant to feature two of Israel’s neighbors at Abbas’s side. Both nations have fought multiple wars with Israel, both have signed historic peace treaties with the Jewish state, and both would reaffirm their commitment to the Palestinian cause and opposition to Israel’s planned annexation of parts of the West Bank.
But when the time came, one face was missing from the picture. Shoukry canceled his plans to attend in deference to other pressing issues on the Egyptian docket, senior Fatah official Jibril Rajoub confirmed at a press conference in Ramallah last Sunday.
Shoukry’s failure to show up may symbolize the embattled Egyptian government’s ambivalent attitude toward Israel’s plan. While Egypt has expressed concern about annexation, the Palestinian cause may no longer be the regime’s main priority.
“There are far more substantial crises facing Egypt today: the coronavirus crisis and its attendant economic consequences, Turkish military intervention on Egypt’s longest border, the Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. All of these crises take priority over annexation,” said Ofer Winter, who studies Egyptian-Israeli relations at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. READ MORE