Israel-Gaza Flare Up – Egypt Meets with Bennett

Along with Palestinians breaking free from a maximum security prison in Israel, there has just been three-day mild flare up in aggression between Gaza and Israel, with Palestinians launching rockets into Israel and Israel hitting targets in Gaza.

Overall, Israel under Bennett has taken a particularly aggressive approach towards Gaza. He recently said on Israeli television that “his government responds ‘to every balloon’ sent from Gaza.’” This is the Prime Minister that the Arab political party Ra’am in the Knesset supported.

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In the midst of the flare-up, Egypt’s el-Sisi met with Bennett in Sharm el-Sheikh (Egypt). The summit, The Times of Israel tells us was “markedly warm.” Here’s how they report this meeting came about: Bennet was invited during a meeting with chief Egyptian intelligence officer Abbas Kamel in Jerusalem last month, where they likely discussed Israel-Gaza-related matters.

Considering Egypt’s fairly positive relationship with Israel, there’s not really any room to try to argue that maybe Egypt is playing hard ball with Bennet. Likely anything but.

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It is thought that the most recent meeting was held in part to focus on the tensions between Gaza and Israel, which flared to a near war the past May, and in which Egypt played the role of mediator, helping to broker a cease-fire.

Israel and Egypt have mutual interests, largely having to do with security and natural resources. Their shared border and the various groups that are present around those areas (e.g. Hamas, a concern for Israel, and groups like Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, a concern for Egypt, in the Sinai) bring them together.

In terms of natural resources the countries had previously discussed building a pipeline between an offshore gas facility in Israel and Egypt, where the gas would be liquified. That discussion appears to be ongoing.

The Egyptian government has said the recent talks were held in part to work on maintaining calm in Palestine. The question is, is maintaining calm the same thing as maintaining the status quo, perhaps with a bit more economic opportunities on the horizon for blockaded Gaza? Who ultimately benefits from that?

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