Egypt bears as much responsibility for the Gaza Strip as Israel does, an Israeli cabinet minister said on Monday, in remarks that could upset Cairo as it tries to avoid being drawn back into the Palestinian enclave while brokering truce talks there.
In parallel to UN mediation, Egypt has used its contacts with both Israel and the dominant Palestinian Islamist group Hamas to discuss ways of calming a more than three-month-old surge in confrontations along the Israel-Gaza border.
But some Egyptian officials say they would resist any attempt by Israel, or its US ally, to shift to Cairo the onus for addressing Gaza’s long-term governance or economic problems.
Egypt ruled Gaza before losing it to Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. Israel withdrew troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 while keeping control of its coast and airspace. Egypt has helped the Israelis isolate Hamas while insisting they remain the occupiers of Palestinian territory and therefore uniquely liable for Gaza.
Asked about Cairo’s role in the truce talks, Zeev Elkin, a member of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security cabinet and Likud party, said Egyptian security needs meant the Arab power “understands that it cannot shrug off Gaza.”
“As far as we are concerned, after the State of Israel left Gaza, responsibility should not be imposed on us. Egypt is no less responsible,” Elkin to Israel’s Ynet TV in an interview.
“We left Gaza. If someone strikes at us from Gaza, they will get hit back. Let the Arab world resolve the internal, humanitarian problem of the Gaza Strip. Why should we bear responsibility for this?”