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Egypt confirms 40-year peace treaty with Israel is not in jeopardy as IDF prepares for Rafah ground op

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry holds a press conference, in Cairo, Egypt January 14, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told reporters his government is committed to upholding its peace treaty with Israel during a press conference in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana on Monday.

"A peace agreement between Egypt and Israel already exists, which has been in effect for the past 40 years, and we will continue it," Shoukry affirmed, alongside Tanja Fajon, Slovenia's current minister of Foreign and European Affairs.

The Egyptian foreign minister's remarks were made in response to recent reports of a potential strain on Egyptian-Israeli diplomatic ties if Israel Defense Forces were to launch a ground offensive in the town of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, near the Egyptian border.

In the press conference, Shoukry claimed: “Any peace with Israel must come on the basis of establishing a Palestinian state along the lines of the 1967 borders.”

The Egyptian diplomat said his country will continue its efforts to secure the release of Israeli hostages from captivity in Gaza, as well as Palestinian prisoners detained in Israeli jails for violent crimes. He reiterated his country's steadfast dedication to ensuring the delivery of aid to Gazan civilians.

“We will continue our efforts with both parties to reach an agreement that leads to the release of hostages and prisoners and ensuring the entry of aid into the Gaza Strip,” Shoukry said Monday, referencing Egypt's ongoing efforts to negotiate a truce Hamas-Israel truce deal with Qatar and the United States.

Several news reports in recent weeks have documented the deterioration of relations between Egypt and Israel, seemingly connected to the war in Gaza.

Shoukry claims that Israel is violating international law in Gaza by killing civilians and has warned that launching a ground operation in Rafah in southern Gaza, near the Egyptian border, will threaten the 1979 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.

Despite Shoukry's condemnation of Israel’s conduct in the war, his comment on Monday was reassuring that Egypt does not intend to cause additional conflict in the region.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during an ABC News interview on Saturday, said “he agrees with the Americans” that the operations in Rafah must be carried out cautiously.

“We are going to do it while providing safe passage for the civilian population so that they can leave.”

“We’re not cavalier about this,” Netanyahu stated. “This is part of our war effort to get civilians out of harm’s way. It’s part of Hamas’ effort to keep them in harm’s way.”

At the same time, Netanyahu said, "Whoever tells us not to operate in Rafah is actually calling on us to lose the war and leave Hamas there." Earlier this month, the IDF confirmed that Rafah is the last Hamas stronghold in the Gaza Strip.

Senior officials from Israel’s Mossad foreign intelligence agency and the IDF have reportedly doubled their efforts to reach out and coordinate with Egyptian security officials regarding the Rafah operation.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced last week that the Israeli military will dismantle Hamas’ Rafah Brigade, just as it has in the area surrounding Khan Younis.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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