Egypt warns it may withdraw from Gaza war mediation over ‘attempts to doubt’ its role

Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv on May 18, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Israelis attend a rally calling for the release of hostages held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza, at Hostages Square in Tel Aviv on May 18, 2024. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Egypt threatened on Wednesday to withdraw as a mediator in Gaza ceasefire negotiations.

“Attempts to cast doubt and offend Egypt’s mediation efforts… will only lead to further complications of the situation in Gaza and the entire region and may push Egypt to completely withdraw from its mediation in the current conflict,” Diaa Rashwan, head of Egypt’s State Information Service, says in a statement published on social media.

The comments are made following a CNN report confirming what two officials told The Times of Israel last week — that Egypt mishandled the latest round of hostage talks, contributing to their collapse.

The threat from Egypt is similar to the one issued by Qatar last month, when its prime minister announced a review of its mediator role, in light of criticism from Israel. That review has not led to Doha withdrawing from the talks, and it appears unlikely that Cairo will take such a step either.

Egypt has also come under fire from the US for what Washington says has been Cairo’s withholding of aid for Gaza.

Earlier today, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged Egypt to do everything it can to make sure humanitarian aid is flowing into Gaza.

Blinken told a hearing in the House of Representatives that fighting near the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza, which Israel seized earlier this month, has made the environment for providing assistance challenging.

“So we need to find a way to make sure that the assistance that would go through Rafah can get through safely, but we do strongly urge our Egyptian partners to do everything that they can on their end of things to make sure that assistance is flowing,” Blinken said.

Yesterday, a senior US official briefing reporters offered very rare criticism of Egypt over what they said was Cairo’s withholding of UN humanitarian assistance from Gaza.

“What should be going into Kerem Shalom is the UN assistance, which is now in Egypt. Egypt is holding that back until the Rafah crossing situation settles out,” the senior administration official said.

“We do not believe that aid should be held back for any reason whatsoever. Kerem Shalom is open. The Israelis have it open. And that aid should be going through Kerem Shalom,” the official added

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