Egypt reiterated its rejection of an Israeli plan that calls for the forced displacement of millions of Palestinians in Gaza and their resettlement in Sinai.
Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry described the leaked Israeli intelligence ministry document as “ludicrous.”
In the first official Egyptian comments on the document, he said: “I don’t think we would — anyone would — raise such a ludicrous proposition.”
He made his remarks in an interview to CNN on Thursday.
“If that was the case, maybe the United States would also contemplate providing the same access to its southern border that might be expected for us in the Sinai,” he added.
“States are sovereign and they are well-defined by their borders, by their populations. And the issue of displacement in itself is a matter that is in contravention, is in violation of international humanitarian law,” Shoukry said. “So I think that nobody would undertake an illegal activity.”
An Israeli government ministry had drafted a wartime proposal to transfer the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million people to Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, drawing condemnation from the Palestinians and worsening tensions with Cairo.
The document is dated Oct. 13, six days after Hamas militants killed more than 1,400 people in southern Israel and took over 240 hostage in an attack that provoked a devastating Israeli war in Gaza. It was first published by Sicha Mekomit, a local news site, and came to light this past week.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office played down the report compiled by the Intelligence Ministry as a hypothetical exercise — a “concept paper.” But its conclusions revived for Palestinians memories of their greatest trauma — the uprooting of hundreds of thousands of people who fled or were forced from their homes during the fighting surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948.
“We are against transfer to any place, in any form, and we consider it a red line that we will not allow to be crossed,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said of the report. “What happened in 1948 will not be allowed to happen again.”
A mass displacement, Abu Rudeineh said, would be “tantamount to declaring a new war.”
The document proposes moving Gaza’s civilian population to tent cities in northern Sinai, then building permanent cities and an undefined humanitarian corridor. A security zone would be established inside Israel to block the displaced Palestinians from entering. The report did not say what would become of Gaza once its population is cleared out.