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Egyptian President el-Sisi: EU and Egypt united on rejecting Israeli operation in Rafah, call for ceasefire

EU pledges billions to struggling Egyptian economy

IDF soldiers in the Gaza Strip, March 2024 (Photo: IDF).

Egypt and European leaders are united in rejecting Israel’s planned operation in the southern town of Rafah in the Gaza Strip, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi stated on Sunday.

His statement came at a press conference after signing a €7.4 billion deal ($8.1 billion) with the European Union to boost Egypt’s struggling economy.

The operation in Rafah was green-lit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week to achieve, "total victory" in the war, Netanyahu stated on Sunday.

“We will operate in Rafah,” because it is the only way to eliminate the Hamas threat and “to free all of our hostages.”

However, el-Sisi said the IDF's ground incursion into Rafah “would double the humanitarian catastrophe that civilians in the Gaza Strip are suffering from, in addition to the effects of that operation on liquidating the Palestinian cause, which Egypt outright rejects.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed with the Egyptian leader.

“We are all extremely concerned about the war in Gaza and the unfolding catastrophic humanitarian situation. Gaza is facing famine and we cannot accept this,” von der Leyen said. “It is critical to achieve an agreement on a ceasefire rapidly now that frees the hostages and allows more humanitarian aid to reach Gaza.”

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo blasted Israel, saying: “The current situation in Gaza is unacceptable,” and accused Israel of ignoring the provisional ruling by the International Court of Justice demanding increased access to humanitarian aid entering the Gaza Strip.

“What we have seen in practice is the opposite,” De Croo said.

Von der Leyen and six other EU leaders, including the prime ministers of Italy, Greece, Austria, Cyprus and Belgium, traveled to Egypt to sign a three-year strategic partnership of €5 billion (about $5.4 billion) in soft loans to support economic changes.

In addition, €1.8 billion (nearly $2 billion) to support investments from the private sector and €600 million (over $6.5 billion) in grants including €200 million ($212 million) for migration management, according to media reports.

“We will devote €3 billion (about $3.3 billion) to agriculture and nutrition, water and sanitation programs over the next years, here in the region,” von der Leyen stated.

The deal, she said, underlined the “strategic location” of Egypt in a “very troubled neighborhood” and the “vital role” it played in the “stability of the region.”

The three-year deal with Egypt follows a similar but much smaller deal of some €150 million ($164 million) with Tunisia. Both agreements are meant to strengthen the local economies, with the ultimate aim to reduce the flood of refugees entering Europe each year.

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

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