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Why Egypt and different Arab nations are unwilling to absorb Palestinian refugees from Gaza

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CAIRO — As determined Palestinians in sealed-off Gaza attempt to discover refuge beneath Israel’s relentless bombardment in retaliation for Hamas’ brutal Oct. 7 assault, some ask why neighboring Egypt and Jordan don’t take them in.

The 2 nations, which flank Israel on reverse sides and share borders with Gaza and the occupied West Financial institution, respectively, have replied with a staunch refusal. Jordan already has a big Palestinian inhabitants.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi made his hardest remarks but on Wednesday, saying the present conflict was not simply aimed toward combating Hamas, which guidelines the Gaza Strip, “but additionally an try and push the civilian inhabitants to … migrate to Egypt.” He warned this might wreck peace within the area.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II gave an identical message a day earlier, saying, “No refugees in Jordan, no refugees in Egypt.”

Their refusal is rooted in concern that Israel desires to drive a everlasting expulsion of Palestinians into their nations and nullify Palestinian calls for for statehood. El-Sissi additionally mentioned a mass exodus would threat bringing militants into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, from the place they could launch assaults on Israel, endangering the 2 nations’ 40-year-old peace treaty.

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Here’s a have a look at what’s motivating Egypt’s and Jordan’s stances.


Displacement has been a serious theme of Palestinian historical past. Within the 1948 conflict round Israel’s creation, an estimated 700,000 Palestinians had been expelled or fled from what’s now Israel. Palestinians confer with the occasion because the Nakba, Arabic for “disaster.”

Within the 1967 Mideast conflict, when Israel seized the West Financial institution and Gaza Strip, 300,000 extra Palestinians fled, principally into Jordan.

The refugees and their descendants now quantity almost 6 million, most dwelling in camps and communities within the West Financial institution, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. The diaspora has unfold additional, with many refugees constructing lives in Gulf Arab nations or the West.

After combating stopped within the 1948 conflict, Israel refused to permit refugees to return to their properties. Since then, Israel has rejected Palestinian calls for for a return of refugees as a part of a peace deal, arguing that it will threaten the nation’s Jewish majority.

Egypt fears historical past will repeat itself and a big Palestinian refugee inhabitants from Gaza will find yourself staying for good.


That’s partially as a result of there’s no clear state of affairs for the way this conflict will finish.

Israel says it intends to destroy Hamas for its bloody rampage in its southern cities. However it has given no indication of what would possibly occur afterward and who would govern Gaza. That has raised considerations that it’s going to reoccupy the territory for a interval, fueling additional battle.

The Israeli navy mentioned Palestinians who adopted its order to flee northern Gaza to the strip’s southern half could be allowed again to their properties after the conflict ends.

Egypt is just not reassured.

El-Sissi mentioned combating might final for years if Israel argues it hasn’t sufficiently crushed militants. He proposed that Israel home Palestinians in its Negev Desert, which neighbors the Gaza Strip, till it ends its navy operations.

“Israel’s lack of readability concerning its intentions in Gaza and the evacuation of the inhabitants is in itself problematic,” mentioned Riccardo Fabiani, Disaster Group Worldwide’s North Africa Undertaking Director. “This confusion fuels fears within the neighborhood.”

Egypt has pushed for Israel to permit humanitarian support into Gaza, and Israel mentioned Wednesday that it will, although it did not say when. In response to United Nations, Egypt, which is coping with a spiraling financial disaster, already hosts some 9 million refugees and migrants, together with roughly 300,000 Sudanese who arrived this 12 months after fleeing their nation’s conflict.

However Arab nations and lots of Palestinians additionally suspect Israel would possibly use this chance to drive everlasting demographic adjustments to wreck Palestinian calls for for statehood in Gaza, the West Financial institution and east Jerusalem, which was additionally captured by Israel in 1967.

El-Sissi repeated warnings Wednesday that an exodus from Gaza was supposed to “get rid of the Palestinian trigger … crucial reason behind our area.” He argued that if a demilitarized Palestinian state had been created way back in negotiations, there wouldn’t be conflict now.

“All historic precedent factors to the truth that when Palestinians are pressured to go away Palestinian territory, they don’t seem to be allowed to return again,” mentioned H.A. Hellyer, a senior affiliate fellow on the Carnegie Endowment for Worldwide Peace. “Egypt doesn’t need to be complicit in ethnic cleaning in Gaza.”

Arab nations’ fears have solely been stoked by the rise beneath Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of hard-right events that discuss in Positive phrases about eradicating Palestinians. Because the Hamas assault, the rhetoric has turn into much less restrained, with some right-wing politicians and media commentators calling for the navy to raze Gaza and drive out its inhabitants. One lawmaker mentioned Israel ought to perform a “new Nakba” on Gaza.


On the identical time, Egypt says a mass exodus from Gaza would carry Hamas or different Palestinian militants onto its soil. That may be destabilizing in Sinai, the place Egypt’s navy fought for years in opposition to Islamic militants and at one level accused Hamas of backing them.

Egypt has backed Israel’s blockade of Gaza since Hamas took over within the territory in 2007, tightly controlling the entry of supplies and the passage of civilians forwards and backwards. It additionally destroyed the community of tunnels beneath the border that Hamas and different Palestinians used to smuggle items into Gaza.

With the Sinai insurgency largely put down, “Cairo doesn’t need to have a brand new safety downside on its fingers on this problematic area,” Fabiani mentioned.

El-Sissi warned of an much more destabilizing state of affairs: the wrecking of Egypt and Israel’s 1979 peace deal. He mentioned that with the presence of Palestinian militants, Sinai “would turn into a base for assaults on Israel. Israel would have the best to defend itself … and would strike Egyptian territory.”

“The peace which now we have achieved would vanish from our fingers,” he mentioned, “all for the sake of the thought of eliminating the Palestinian trigger.”


For extra AP protection of the Israel-Palestinian battle: https://apnews.com/hub/israel-palestinian-conflict

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