Israel’s Army Radio reported Monday that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has suggested to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to extend the territory of the Gaza Strip into the Sinai Peninsula – currently under Egyptian control – and there establish a Palestinian state to which those claiming to be Palestinian refugees could one day return.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the idea for this “large state of Gaza,” Army Radio reported, but some Israelis are reacting with curiosity as el-Sissi’s plan included demilitarizing Gaza, an idea that Israel has been promoting.
Hamas currently controls the Gaza Strip and considering the militant group’s opposition to the existence of the State of Israel, it would be unlikely to green light the alleged Egyptian offer.
In this photo provided by Egypt's state news agency MENA, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, right, meets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, center and Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, at the presidential palace in Cairo, Egypt, Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014. The Palestinian president threatened to dissolve a new unity government if the Hamas militant group does not give up power in the Gaza Strip. Abbas told reporters in Cairo late Saturday that he cannot accept the current situation in Gaza. He said if Hamas will not accept one central authority, "we will not accept partnership with it."(AP Photo/ MENA)
El-Sissi’s plan would add some 620 square miles to the Gaza Strip, expanding the territory to five times its current size and ultimately leaving more land in Palestinian control than were Israel to hand all pre-1967 territories to the Palestinians.
What would happen to the West Bank under the plan?
The Army Radio report noted that under the el-Sissi proposal, Palestinian cities in the West Bank would be run autonomously and in exchange the Palestinian Authority would drop its demand for a return to 1967 borders.
Israel’s IMRA media digest translated the Army Radio report which read in part:
According to the same sources, al-Sisi tried to appeal to Mahmoud Abbas and told him that at his age, 80, if he does not take this offer those who come after will take it, but Abbas was not convinced and rejected the proposal.
From what we know, the Americans are also in the picture and gave the green light to the plan, and Prime Minister Netanyahu was also advised of the program. According to a preliminary examination, Netanyahu did not update many around him about the program.
Israeli Science Minister Yaakov Peri told Army Radio, “The generosity in el-Sissi’s offer is certainly surprising.”
"The question that needs to be asked, and we do not have enough information - what will happen with Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] and what will happen with the issue of Jerusalem? It would be worthwhile for us to see the proposal in detail despite the refusal of Mahmoud Abbas," Peri added.