By ARYEH SAVIR, UNITED FOR ISRAEL—
Egyptian President Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has reportedly proposed to Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas to extend the Gaza Strip into the Sinai area and establish a Palestinian state there.
According to the plan, Egypt would provide a 1,600-square-kilometer area in the Sinai Peninsula near the Gaza Strip, making the Strip five times its size, where a Palestinian state would be established under full control of the PA. The Palestinian refugees would go to that state, which would be demilitarized.
In addition to the new state south of Gaza there would be full Palestinian autonomy in PA-administered cities Judea and Samaria. In return, Abbas would relinquish the Palestinian demand for a return to the ’67 borders.
According to IDF Radio, al-Sisi told Abbas that if he does not take this offer, those who succeed him will take it, but Abbas was not convinced and rejected the proposal. IDF Radio further reports that the Americans are also in the picture and have given a green light to the plan.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was reportedly advised of the program, but according to a preliminary investigtion by the radio station, he has not updated his staff on the proposed solution.
The radio journalist pointed out that a similar program had been suggested by Israeli academics in the past as well as by former National Security Council head Giora Eiland. Eiland claimed at the time that the area of Gaza is too small to support more than a million residents and therefore must be increased at the expense of the Sinai. However, when this idea was presented a few years ago, Egypt rejected it outright.
Responding to the offer on IDF Radio, Member of Knesset Yaakov Perry said that al-Sisi’s generosity was surprising but that there were many issues outstanding. “Questions must be asked, and we do not yet have enough details, regarding the status of Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem. We should address the offer seriously, even if Abu Mazen (Abbas) has turned it down,” Perry, who is a former head of the Shabak (Israel’s Security Agency), said.
Minister of Transportation Yisrael Katz welcomed al-Sisi’s proposal, which he praised as “the Egyption President’s amazing offer.”
“This is the End of Days. The Americans are in support . All that is left is to convince Abu Mazen, who is in pursuit of the Palestinian right of return to Israel, and the Israeli Left, who are eager to relinquish land.”
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry denies that al-Sisi ever made such an offer to the Palestinian Authority, i24 News reports.
Abbas’ office likewise denies the report. PA Secretary-General Al-Tayyib Abd Al-Rahim told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency that the report was “fabricated.” He added that Abbas would not accept any alternative to a Palestinian state on the 1949 Armistice lines with eastern Jerusalem as its capital. Abbas’s representative further claimed that Egypt shares the PA’s position on this issue.