Saturday 17 February 2024 - 21:59

The Future of the Camp David Accords amid Increasing Tensions between Egypt and Israel

Story Code : 1116951
The Future of the Camp David Accords amid Increasing Tensions between Egypt and Israel
Since the onset of the Gaza conflict, relations between Egypt and the Zionist regime have been affected significantly. However, the extremist Netanyahu cabinet's threats of a widespread assault on Rafah and the seizure of the Egypt-Gaza border along the Philadelphia axis have escalated this diplomatic crisis to the brink. In recent days, numerous reports of military and political threats from Cairo in response to Tel Aviv's new assertiveness in Gaza have surfaced.

In recent days, Cairo has positioned a minimum of 40 tanks and armored vehicles along the border. Alongside military warnings, verbal threats from Egyptian officials have been abundant. Ezzat Saad, a former assistant to the Egyptian Foreign Minister and a member of the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Council, stated last week, "Egypt's threat to suspend the peace treaty is genuine and serious."

In an interview with Sputnik, he further asserted, "If Israel persists in weakening the peace treaty's essence, Egypt's leadership is prepared to take decisive measures." Mohamed Razi, Secretary of the National Defense and Security Committee in the Egyptian House of Representatives, echoed these sentiments in an interview with Sputnik, emphasizing, "While the Egyptian government upholds the peace agreement with Israel, any breach on the other side would constitute an international agreement violation, jeopardizing its stability."

Hossein Haridi, former aide to the Egyptian Foreign Minister, remarked, "The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' statement confirms Egypt's explicit messages to Israel and the Western, particularly American, parties, signaling that Egypt's interests and national security are nearing a critical juncture amid current developments." This implies that Israel bears responsibility for the potential perilous outcomes.

According to sources cited by the American news agency Associated Press, Cairo has also threatened to suspend the Camp David peace treaty should Israeli forces be deployed to Rafah.

Furthermore, both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal reported last Saturday that Egyptian officials cautioned Israel about the prospect of treaty suspension if Israeli forces were to attack Rafah.

Given the adamant stance of Zionist authorities regarding operations in Rafah, this issue prompts numerous questions about the future of relations between Cairo and Tel Aviv.

What is stated in the agreements?

Egypt has clearly stated that it considers the border a red line and sees any action by Tel Aviv as a violation of peace agreements and treaties.

Prior to the events of October 7th, Egyptian border authorities and Hamas monitored the "Philadelphia" axis. However, in recent weeks, the prospect of Israeli forces returning to the border has caused concern in Cairo.

Egyptians assert that Israel's current actions breach the bilateral peace treaty of 1979 and its annexes in the 2005 Protocol related to the Philadelphia axis.

Division of the Sinai Peninsula and the Philadelphia axis based on the Camp David Accords

The process of delineating and dividing the boundaries of the Gaza Strip and Egypt commenced following the ratification of the Camp David Peace Accords in 1979. These accords established the "Buffer Zone" along the border, known as the "Philadelphia Corridor" or "Salah Al-Din Axis," stretching 14 kilometers from the Mediterranean Sea to the Kerem Shalom crossing in southern Gaza.

Moreover, the agreement partitioned the Sinai Peninsula into three zones, with both parties agreeing on specific levels and types of military armament to be stationed in each zone.

Zone A, situated along the Gulf of Suez in western Sinai, constitutes the first zone. Zone B is positioned in central Sinai, while the third and final zone, Zone C, is located in eastern Sinai along the border strip with Gaza. The peace agreement limited Egypt's security presence in Zone C to a singular police force.

Additionally, the agreement permitted a "limited" presence of Israeli police forces to monitor the borders in Zone D, within the Gaza Strip. This arrangement persisted until 2005, when Israelis withdrew from Gaza, assuming control of the Rafah land crossing from the Palestinian side to the border.

The "Philadelphia Agreement," according to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, adheres to the conditions of the 1979 Peace Treaty without alteration or review. Nevertheless, its fourth article permits "additional security measures" aimed at reinforcing the security arrangements detailed in the security annex. These measures authorize the deployment of an Egyptian border force comprising 750 soldiers equipped with light weaponry along the axis and border region. They are tasked with counterterrorism and anti-smuggling operations to deter infiltration and smuggling activities.

Upon signing the "Philadelphia Agreement," Israel aimed to ensure border security and prevent its exploitation for military purposes by Palestinian resistance factions.

Subsequently, the "Agreement on Movement and Access," also known as the AMA, was concluded between the self-governing entities and Egypt on November 15, 2005. This agreement transferred control of the Rafah land border crossing to the Palestinian self-governing entities under the supervision of the European Union.

However, approximately two months after the implementation of the "Philadelphia Agreement," the political and security landscape in the Gaza Strip underwent a transformation. Following Hamas' victory in the 2006 parliamentary elections, Rafah essentially fell under the control of Hamas forces.

Major General Al-Sayed Al-Jabri, an Egyptian military expert, asserts that "Tel Aviv, based on three agreements with Egypt, namely: 1- Camp David Accords, 2- Peace Treaty, and 3- Passage Agreement, is not authorized to augment its military presence at the Rafah border or assume control of it. Israel is restricted to deploying no more than 4000 Israeli soldiers in Zone D, solely armed with light infantry weapons, devoid of armored vehicles, artillery, or aerial operations in the area."

According to this military analyst, the introduction of "armored forces, artillery, or aircraft into the region" would represent a blatant breach of the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty, the Camp David Accords, and the Passage Agreement.

He asserts that "given these circumstances, Egypt retains the authority to undertake all necessary measures to safeguard Egypt's national security."

What are the reasons behind Egypt's concern and frustration?

Cairo's perception of Israel's intentions for carrying out military operations in Rafah undoubtedly plays a significant role in Egypt's worries about the evolving security situation in the Rafah Strip.

By excavating multiple tunnels beneath this axis, the Zionists claim that, in spite of strict security measures and procedures, Hamas still uses the Rafah border as their principal route for external contact and the acquisition of military supplies and equipment.

According to Israeli news outlet I24, which quoted Zionist military analysts, the Zionist army's advance towards the "Philadelphia Corridor" is intended to divide the Gaza Strip from Egypt's Sinai Desert.

Furthermore, Israel's Army Radio announced last week that Tel Aviv will set up military installations at the location and that, in the upcoming years, its personnel will be stationed alongside Egyptian forces along the Philadelphia axis to make sure that tunnel smuggling doesn't take place.

Plans to build an underground anti-tunnel wall similar to the one separating the Gaza Strip's border and occupied settlements were also revealed by Israel's Army Radio.

Apart from the Zionist media's recognition of the regime's attempts to seize control of the border region, Egyptians are more concerned about the Zionist regime's secretive but obvious intentions to transfer migrants from the city of Rafah to the Sinai Desert.

Cairo essentially denies the claims and signals made by the Zionist authority about seizing control of the Philadelphi Corridor in order to demolish Hamas tunnels and initiate an offensive in the Rafah region. It issues a warning about the repercussions of trying to move Palestinians to Sinai.

What does the proposal in an official Israeli document to relocate the Gaza population to Sinai entail... What's the narrative behind it?

An event that has recently drawn the attention of Egyptian authorities in a negative light is the disclosure of an official government document by the Zionists, which calls for the transfer of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Egypt's Sinai. This document, released on October 31, 2023, stirred significant controversy, leading the Zionist cabinet to respond and disown it.

The document, unveiled by the Ministry of Intelligence, proposes relocating Palestinians from Gaza to Egypt as one of three options for addressing the Gaza Strip after the conclusion of the war.

Dated October 13, 2023, and spanning 10 pages, the document bears the seal of the Israeli Intelligence Organization under the leadership of Gila Gamliel, a Likud-affiliated minister.

It promotes the evacuation of non-combatants from Gaza as a favorable outcome of the war.

This enforced relocation plan is outlined in multiple stages, with the initial phase involving the evacuation of Gazans to the south while aerial strikes focus on the northern part of the Strip.

Phase two will see the start of a land invasion, followed by a north-south occupation and the "clearing of Hamas fighters' underground strongholds."

This paper states that those living in the Gaza Strip will be moved to Egyptian territory concurrently with the occupation of Gaza and will not be permitted to return there permanently.

According to the document, a campaign should be started to force the Palestinians in Gaza to accept this plan and give up their lands.

The statement reads: "Messages should focus on the loss of land, clearly affirming that there is no hope of returning to lands that Israel will occupy in the near future, whether this is correct or not. It should also be in this manner: (God has decreed that you should lose this land because of Hamas leadership, and there is no solution but to go to another place with the help of your Muslim brothers)."

This document calls for the Israeli government to initiate a public relations campaign in the Western world to advance the transfer (expulsion) program of Palestinians from Gaza "in a manner that does not incite public opinion against Israel or damage its reputation."

Additionally, the document proposes launching a public outreach effort in countries like Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Libya, and Tunisia, aimed at conveying a message of support to their Palestinian brethren, even if it means facing criticism or condemnation of Israel.

The document asserts: "The mass migration of populations from conflict zones is a natural and inevitable outcome, similar to what occurred in Syria, Afghanistan, and Ukraine."

Following the revelation of this document by the Israeli website "Mekomit," the Zionist newspaper "Calcalist" published the complete document from the Israeli Ministry of Intelligence last Saturday, along with a report linking it to the war leadership campaign.

The distribution of such news, which has sparked significant concerns and opposition from Egypt, has prompted further coverage about alternative plans for coerced relocation to Sinai being circulated by Zionist media outlets.

According to reports from the Zionist Army Radio, Tel Aviv has yet to finalize a decision regarding the evacuation of the Gaza population. However, two options are being considered: one involves the northern Gaza Strip, while the other entails transferring residents from the Gaza Strip to Khan Yunis. The latter option is deemed more practical due to Khan Yunis's proximity to Rafah.

This suggests that the Zionist regime aims to address Egypt's concerns and opposition regarding the risks associated with displacing Palestinians by relocating civilians from Rafah before military operations commence.

Nevertheless, another dimension of the issue underscores Zionist apprehensions about Cairo's potential withdrawal from the peace agreement. Tarek Fahmy, the head of the Israel Studies Unit at the National Center for Middle East Studies in Cairo, views Egypt's threat to withdraw from the peace agreement as a deterrent message that has stirred concerns within political and security circles in Tel Aviv regarding the possibility of escalating tensions with the Egyptian army.

Fahmy emphasizes that in Tel Aviv, there's a belief that discontinuing security and intelligence communications with Cairo would be catastrophic. This is because if Egypt cancels this agreement, it could jeopardize Israel's ability to depend on the security and tranquility of its southern borders.

Additionally, according to this Egyptian analyst, the peace accord permits the Zionist government to focus its military efforts on the threats emanating from Gaza and other strategic fronts. This comes at a time when the Zionist military is currently not only involved in Gaza but also grappling with Hezbollah in Lebanon on the northern front and confronting armed resistance along the southwestern coast.

Tarek Fahmy further theorizes that Israel's leadership is not solely embodied by Netanyahu, and there are divergent interests that may not always align with his agenda. Furthermore, the United States itself harbors concerns about escalating tensions with Cairo. Hence, the forthcoming days will be pivotal in determining whether the coordination between Egypt and Israel will persist or if communication channels will be severed, contingent upon the developments in military activities in Rafah.

As highlighted by Jamal Biumi, former advisor to the Egyptian Foreign Minister, following Cairo's ultimatums, the lingering question now looms: Will Israel acknowledge the threat facing the peace accord, or will it choose to ignore it?