Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmad Abu Al Gheit, stated in an interview with Egypt’s Channel 2 TV that his country believes in the necessity of establishing a Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and that the resolution of the Palestine-Israel conflict can only be a two-state solution or one bi-national state.He said that his recent visit to Washington along with Egypt’s Security Chief, Omar Suleiman, was aimed at presenting the Egyptian vision toward resolving the Middle East conflict, and gaining support from the US administration.
Abu Al Gheit further stated that his country told Israeli officials that there is no third solution, as there can only be either two-states living side by side, or a one bi-national state.
He also warned that fundamentalists in Israel still believe that the solution is forcing the Palestinians out of their homeland.
The Egyptian Foreign Minister said that the United States expressed willingness to help Egypt in achieving this goal by helping to facilitate a dialogue between the parties.
Abu Al Gheit said that Egypt cannot be the only facilitator of this process, and added that Arab countries can also play an essential role should they agree to hold direct talks with Israel.
Abu Al Gheit said that the Palestinian internal division and conflict between the Fateh and Hamas movements are only serving the Israeli interests and the interests of some western countries that are using the internal conflict to increase the gap between Fateh and Hamas.
The Egyptian official also said that the Palestinian cause is harmed by the current situation and added that Hamas is seeking Egyptian recognition of its Authority in the Gaza Strip, but that Egypt would not accept it, as he believes that would lead to further divisions.
He said that during Israel’s three-week war on Gaza which started on December 27, 2008, several countries were focused on the need to open the Rafah terminal in Gaza to enable the entry of humanitarian supplies, and that those countries did not even focus on the war itself and its negative and deadly impacts.
But he added that fully opening the Rafah Terminal would be considered as an official recognition of Hamas’ control in the Gaza Strip, which would be considered a violation to ‘Egypt’s commitments to Israel and the International Community’.
He said that Egypt supports the Palestinian people and their struggle, and is committed to the well-being of the 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.
As for the Wall Egypt is building along its border with Gaza, the Egyptian official said that the wall was planned last year and is meant to ensure Egypt’s security and sovereignty.
He said that the tunnels between Gaza and Egypt “are used for infiltrating into the country and smuggling goods to Gaza”, and that his country is committed to providing the residents with all needed supplies, but not through ‘illegal tunnels’.
He failed to mention the rising malnutrition rate in Gaza due to the ongoing lack of essential foodstuffs, or the deaths of hundreds of patients in Gaza who continue to be denied access to medical care.
Abu Al Gheit further stated that most of the weapons that are smuggled to Gaza come through the sea, and added that Israel is still occupying Gaza’s regional waters and its airspace, therefore it should fulfill its responsibility towards the residents of Gaza.
Referring to the deportation of British MP George Galloway, and the attack against the members of the Viva Palestina convoy, Abu Al Gheit said that Galloway “caused the crisis”, and added that Egypt has laws and regulations that the convoy failed to follow.
He claimed that Galloway wanted to impose his will on Egypt, and claimed that the activists of the convoy “occupied the Al Arish port and destroyed its doors, sidewalks, and attacked Egyptian policemen”. But the Egyptian official did not address the fact that prior to the Al Arish incident, the convoy had been forced by the Egyptian government to travel hundreds of miles out of its way, purchasing plane tickets for the hundreds of participants and hiring a full-size ferry to transport the 220 trucks full of aid.
Abu Al Gheit claimed that Egypt proposed that the vehicles of the convoy could later be allowed into Gaza in cooperation with the Egyptian Red Crescent, “but Galloway rejected the idea, and said he preferred to burn the vehicles instead of leaving them behind”. Previous aid caravans which agreed to Egypt’s takeover and distribution of the aid never reached the residents of the Gaza Strip, for whom the aid was meant.
It is worth mentioning that Egyptian officials arrested Galloway, and deported him after informing him that he is not welcome in Egypt and cannot return. They also banned future aid caravans to Gaza from entering through Egypt (the only way into Gaza that is not controlled by Israel).