Right-wing Israeli politicians on Monday came out in support of a reported Egyptian-proposed deal to cede land in the Sinai to a future Palestinian state as a means of resolving the refugee issue.
The deal was rejected out of hand by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas over a week ago and denied by Egypt on Monday.
Israel’s Hebrew-language media on Monday picked up a report that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi had proposed resettling Palestinian refugees in a large tract of land in the Sinai Peninsula that would be annexed to the Gaza Strip. The Times of Israel reported on September 3 that Abbas had rejected that Egyptian proposal.
Abbas’s dismissal of the proposition didn’t stop members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition from piping up in favor of the plan.
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz said in a Facebook statement that the reported plan was a “wonderful proposal,” adding that it was a “vision of the end of days.”
“Now all that remains is to convince [Abbas], seeker of the right of return, and the Israeli left, which is hell-bent on relinquishing land, to support the plan,” he said.
Jewish Home party MK Ayelet Shaked also lauded Sissi’s reported proposal, saying that it “reasonable and feasible” and that “the Egyptian president understands what the Israeli left isn’t wise enough to comprehend.”
Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri told Army Radio, the first Hebrew-language outlet to pick up the report, that the proposal attributed to Sissi was “certainly surprising,” but raised doubt as to whether such an arrangement could better the situation of the Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.”It’s very worthwhile for us to see the proposal in detail despite Abbas’s rejection,” Peri said.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, denied that Sissi had proposed ceding any Egyptian territory to a future Palestinian state, ABC reporter Adam Makary tweeted.
#Egypt's foreign ministry denies reports that Sisi said anything about offering land from Sinai to create a Palestinian state
— آدم مكاري (@adamakary) September 8, 2014
Speaking to a gathering of his Fatah party in Ramallah on Sunday, August 31, Abbas had said that a senior Egyptian official had recently approached him and suggested settling Palestinians in an area 1,600 square kilometers (618 square miles) large adjacent to Gaza, reviving an idea originally proposed by former Israeli national security adviser Giora Eiland.
“They [the Egyptians] are prepared to receive all the refugees, [saying] ‘let’s end the refugee story’,” Abbas was quoted by the Ma’an news agency as saying.
“The plan is being proposed again, but we refused it,” Abbas was quoted by Middle East Monitor as saying. He called it “absolutely unacceptable.”