Egyptian lawmaker pans Netanyahu’s postwar Gaza ideas as violation of peace treaty

Mustafa Bakri says notion of Israeli forces controlling ‘Philadelphi Route’ along Egyptian border is an attack on sovereignty, urges use of force to prevent ‘enemy’s plan

Screen capture from video of Egyptian lawmaker Mustafa Bakri, 2018. (YouTube. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Screen capture from video of Egyptian lawmaker Mustafa Bakri, 2018. (YouTube. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

An Egyptian lawmaker on Saturday attacked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for saying that once Israel concludes its war in the Gaza Strip, Israel will retain security control of the enclave’s territory along the border with Egypt.

Mustafa Bakri, a member of the Egyptian House of Representatives, denounced the idea as an attack on Egyptian sovereignty and a violation of the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, and urged Cairo to wield its military might to prevent the scheme.

Netanyahu on Saturday night declared at a press conference that the Philadelphi Route, also known as the Philadelphi Corridor, which runs for 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) all along the Gaza-Egypt border, “has to be in our hands” to ensure that Gaza remains demilitarized when the fighting ends.

Netanyahu’s assertion “that the Philadelphi Route area on the Egyptian border should be under Israeli control, this is a blatant assault on the peace agreement between the two countries,” Barki posted to X, formerly Twitter. “Don’t come close. The Egyptian border is a red line. It seems that you do not know the power of our army and the ability of our people.”

In a follow-up post, Bakri called for a decisive response to Netanyahu’s “insolence.”

“The threat to occupy the (Philadelphia) route must be met with an official protest and a declared warning because this represents a violation of the peace agreement signed between the two countries,” he wrote. “It represents an attack on Egyptian sovereignty.”

Bakri said that the deployment of Israeli forces along the route would cause “the suffocation of Gaza” and make it a “large prison,” while enabling Israel to enforce “a permanent siege whenever it wants.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a press conference, December 30, 2023 (GPO screenshot)

Bakri also warned it would enable the displacement of Palestinians into the Sinai Peninsula.

“Silence will not be effective with them [the Israelis], and we are confident that the leadership and the army will not allow the enemy to implement its plans,” he said.

War erupted with Hamas’s October 7 massacre, in which terrorists rampaged through southern communities, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking some 240 hostages to Gaza. Israel responded with a military campaign to destroy Hamas, remove it from power in Gaza, and release the hostages.

During his Saturday night press conference, Netanyahu also said that after the war, Gaza will not be governed by any entity “that finances terrorism, that educates its children for terrorism and that pays the families of terrorism,” a reference to the Palestinian Authority, which pays stipends to terror convicts and the families of slain terrorists. “Not Fatahstan and not Hamastan,” he said of the future Gaza.

Earlier this month, Channel 12 reported that Israeli security chiefs had drawn up arrangements for a postwar Gaza that included the construction of an underground barrier along the Philadelphi Corridor and the Gaza-Egypt border, to prevent smuggling of weapons and components through tunnels into the Strip.

The security chiefs also favor the establishment of a multinational force to take overall control of the Strip, with the US, France, and Germany among the participants, according to the report.

Egyptian military personnel stand alert on their tanks at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza Strip, in Rafah, Egypt, October 31, 2023. (Mohammed Asad/AP)

Since the war started, Egypt has been concerned about a possible mass influx of Palestinians from Gaza seeking safety from the fighting in Sinai. It has positioned troops, including tanks, at the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt.

Egypt is limited by its 1979 peace treaty with Israel as to the number of forces it is allowed to station in the Sinai Peninsula, although Israel has in the past approved Egypt breaching those numbers to battle an Islamic insurgency in the area. Under the treaty’s terms, the border area is a demilitarized zone, though Egypt is permitted to station border police along the boundary. Israel has occasionally agreed to let Egypt deploy heavy military forces for actions against terrorists.

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