July 1, 2019

Several news outlets on Sunday reported on a new Israeli proposal to resolve the issue of the Gaza Strip by developing the Egyptian Sinai region within the framework of so-called “economic peace,” which is supported by several Arab countries.

The Jerusalem Centre for Public Affairs and the State published a lengthy report written by two Israeli officials stressing that the situation in the Gaza Strip requires the development of the Egyptian Sinai region as a new model for Egyptian diplomacy, through a project that coincides with the launch of a new peace process in the region.

Shimon Shapira, former military secretary of the Israeli Prime Minister, and Shlomi Fogel, one of the initiators of regional initiatives between Israel and the Arab countries, stressed that the proposed project “must come through an escalation of the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip and an intractable humanitarian crisis on the borders of the Strip until we reach a comprehensive war, resulting in a new crisis in Gaza, [which] requires a new policy different from the [current one.]”

They explained that “the proposed project is based on the economic and commercial development of the Sinai Peninsula, with the support of a party outside the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but it [will have] a direct and decisive impact on the course of the conflict, namely Egypt.”

They also confirmed, “Gaza remains a dilemma for Israel and the international community. Even the World Bank report in September 2018 concluded that the economy of Gaza is on the verge of collapse.”

They also commented on “the continued failure to deal with the issue of Gaza as a time bomb, not only for Israel but for the rest of the region, including Egypt,” and said that “the new model is based on solutions to the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip. And to refrain from anything that would violate this sovereignty, so that all humanitarian aid transfers to Gaza through Egypt only.” 

They added that “the proposed project requires granting Egypt an international aid package by key countries, led by the United States and the Gulf States. This depends on the development of the economic and tourist infrastructure in North Sinai and the al-Arish area [and for] the Bedouin, to improve their living conditions, rather than join state organisations and armed operations against the Egyptian army, along with the inclusion of workers from Gaza to establish the Sinai projects.”

“These projects for economic and tourism development should be under the responsibility of the Egyptian government,” they concluded.