What Egypt Wants In Gaza

As long as Gaza is a problem for Israel, Egypt can play an important role as a mediator, prove its usefulness as an ally to the U.S., and avoid its slide into irrelevance.

Gazans hang a poster depicting Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in November 2017. Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Gazans hang a poster depicting Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in November 2017. Majdi Fathi/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Symposium
June 14 2021
About the author

Haisam Hassanein was the 2016–17 Glazer Fellow at The Washington Institute, and is a policy analyst focusing on Israel relations with the Arab world.

The recent flare-up between Israel and Gaza served as a lifeline for Egypt by revitalizing its role in regional politics. After months of being ignored by the White House, President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi received two phone calls from President Joe Biden in less than a week to express American support for efforts to broker a ceasefire. Eager to show its relevance, Cairo was the first government to announce that it would donate to Gaza’s reconstruction ($500 million, no less); after the fighting ended it also dispatched high-level security delegations to meet with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and sent aid shipments and construction teams to start rebuilding the Strip. The desire for relevance is key to understanding Egypt’s long-term interests in Gaza, but before exploring these interests further, some background is first necessary.

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More about: Egypt, Gaza, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict