In a report published on Saturday, the Beirut-based Arabic newspaper Al Akhbar disclosed that Egypt is poised to welcome thousands of refugees from Gaza, with the finalization of the arrangement contingent on negotiations over the terms with the United States and other Western nations.
This potential agreement comes despite Cairo’s consistent disavowal of the proposal to relocate Gaza’s population to the Sinai Peninsula, a stance reiterated recently by Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry during multiple visits to Washington. Diaa Rashwan, the head of the State Information Service, also affirmed this position in a statement.
Informed sources cited by Al Akhbar reveal that Egyptian officials have initiated preparations for this contingency, conducting a comprehensive study on the operational aspects of the process. The displacement is tentatively scheduled to commence in the first quarter of 2024. Cairo is actively exploring options to share the responsibility and is considering hosting several countries willing to accommodate displaced Gazans. These individuals would depart through the Rafah crossing officially.
Under such a scenario, Egypt would mandate organized transit for residents engaged in specific activities abroad, such as education or immigration, with prior approval and visas for each foreign destination. Egypt anticipates receiving hundreds of thousands of Gazans, subject to criteria including health conditions requiring treatment, and other humanitarian considerations, along with monitoring their educational status.
A key condition of this relocation plan is that migrants do not settle permanently in Sinai but are instead deployed elsewhere, with a “special status” designated for them.
Sources indicate that Cairo’s shift in position is driven by the belief that Israel will persist in destroying and economically strangling the Gaza Strip even after the cessation of hostilities. Egypt seeks to establish quotas for Gazan immigrants to be accepted by other Arab countries, particularly in the Gulf and North Africa. Simultaneously, Egypt is pressing for substantial economic support not only from Europe and the United States but also from Gulf states. Additionally, there are calls for scholarships for Gazan students to study in Europe, Turkey, and the United States, allowing them to travel with their families.
The Egyptian political maneuvering in this direction includes a stern warning to the United States about the potential security risks associated with hastening the displacement process, which could transform Sinai into a battleground against Israel, as argued by Egyptian officials. They demand a well-organized exit process for arrivals from Gaza and significant financial support to help Egypt manage the challenges associated with hosting these individuals, emphasizing the need for sustained funding according to clearly defined specifications and mechanisms.