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What impact would Egypt's suspension of the 40-year peace treaty with Israel have?

2024-02-12 20:58:35, Blog CNA

What impact would Egypt's suspension of the 40-year peace treaty with

It was a warm handshake between two statesmen, conducted in the presence of US President Jimmy Carter. This happened at "Camp David" in the state of Maryland, as Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin reached a historic agreement that has ensured peace for over 40 years between Israel and Egypt. It has served as an important source of stability in an unstable region.

This peace has been maintained during two Palestinian uprisings and a series of wars between Israel and Hamas. Now, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to send Israeli troops to Rafah, a town in Gaza bordering Egypt, the Egyptian government is threatening to suspend the deal.

The following is a look at the history of the treaty and what might happen if it is suspended.

HOW WAS THE TREATY BORN?

It was 1977, and Mr. Begin, Israel's new prime minister, opposed the return of any of the territories Israel had captured a decade earlier in the Middle East war of 1967. Among them was Egypt's Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt and Israel had fought four major wars, the most recent in 1973. President Sadat's decision to take a different path from other Arab leaders by opening talks with Israel surprised the world.

The talks culminated in the Camp David Accords in September 1978 and a peace treaty a year later.

What impact would Egypt's suspension of the 40-year peace treaty with

Under the peace treaty, Israel agreed to withdraw from Sinai, which Egypt would keep demilitarized. Israeli ships were allowed passage through the Suez Canal, a major trade route. The countries established full diplomatic relations, marking Israel's first peace agreement with an Arab country.

"The Camp David Accords were led by three brave men who took a bold stand because they knew the lasting effects on peace and security, then and for the future." We need this kind of leadership today, and it is currently lacking in the Israeli government," said Paige Alexander, executive director of the Carter Center.

WHAT IS EGYPT'S CURRENT POSITION?

Two Egyptian officials and a Western diplomat told the Associated Press news agency on Sunday that Egypt could suspend the peace treaty if Israeli troops occupy the town of Rafah.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu says Rafah is Hamas' last remaining stronghold after more than four months of fighting and that sending in ground troops is essential to defeating the group.

Egypt opposes any move that could prompt desperate Palestinians to flee across the border into its territory. Rafah also serves as the besieged territory's main entry point for humanitarian aid, and an Israeli attack could destroy key aid shipments.

Rafah's population has grown from 280,000 people to around 1.4 million as Palestinians flee fighting elsewhere in Gaza. Hundreds of thousands of those evacuated are living in refugee camps built with tents.

Mr. Netanyahu has ordered the army to prepare a plan for the evacuation of all Palestinian civilians before the offensive begins. But it is unclear where they will go.

He said on Sunday that they will be able to return to open spaces further north. But these areas have been severely damaged by the Israeli offensive.

WHAT HAPPENS IF THE TREATY IS SUSPENDED?

The treaty significantly limits the number of troops on both sides of the border. This has allowed Israel to focus its military on other threats.

Alongside the war in Gaza, Israel has been engaged in near-daily clashes with the militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon, while its security forces have increased their presence in the West Bank.

If Egypt were to suspend the deal, it could mean that Israel can no longer rely on its southern border as an oasis of peace. The troop buildup along its border with Egypt would undoubtedly challenge an Israeli army already engaged on many fronts.

This would have serious consequences for Egypt as well. Egypt has received billions of dollars in US military aid since the peace agreement.

If the deal is cancelled, it could jeopardize that funding. A massive military buildup would also strain Egypt's already struggling economy.

Paige Alexander, executive director of the Carter Center, says that if Israel attacks Rafah, "it risks hostilities with Egypt, which would be catastrophic for the entire region"./ VOA

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