Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s visit to Israel on Sunday, seen as an attempt to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, sparked criticism among social media users, activists, and politicians who have been depicting the visit as a form of ”normalisation”.
The visit was rejected by several politicians who considered it unjustified and untimely, as it comes just a few days after the completion of Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Africa tour, during which he sought enforcement of Israeli-African relations. The talks in Africa left Egyptians worried about their country’s status in the controversial dam agreement.
Members of some political parties mentioned this fear in their comments regarding the visit. The issue of the dam was not the only reason for their outrage, but also the visit itself. Many view Shoukry’s visit to Israel as a betrayal of their Palestinian brothers, especially after the latest Israeli attack on Gaza earlier in July when airstrikes were launched against four locations in the Gaza Strip, causing significant damage.
Member of Al-Dostour and journalist Khaled Dawood told Daily News Egypt that there has not been enough transparency regarding the visit. Complete information about both officials’ talks and Shoukry’s speech in Israel has yet to be released, he said.
The visit contradicts our solidarity with Palestinians against the brutal practices they continue to face from Israelis, Dawood said. Moreover, their talks did not touch upon the harsh treatment and strict measures by Israelis against Palestinians, nor did they mention anything about illegal settlements, he added.
The head of the Lawyers Syndicate Sameh Ashour said that this visit is unacceptable, especially at this time when Israel is attempting to “mess with” Egypt’s security, according to Netanyahu’s movements in Africa and amid the current conditions in the region.
The 6 April Youth Movement released a statement agreeing with Ashour, describing the visit as a betrayal that would cause Egypt further failures. This visit confirms that the state follows the ”principle of politics in exchange for money”, the statement read.
However, other figures welcomed the visit. Member of parliament Kamal Amer said Shoukry’s visit to Israel is ”normal”, as both countries have had ties with each other since 1979, which means there is mutual trust and interests between both countries, allowing them to coordinate on various files and issues.
He added that the Palestinian issue is one of Egypt’s main concerns. Therefore, the visit is conductive to its discussion.
Furthermore, Hussien Haredy, former assistant foreign minister told Daily News Egypt: ”the visit will not impact Egypt’s situation regarding the dam agreement as it is not related to it at all. The aim of the visit was discussing the Palestinian issue, the peace progress, and ways to confront terrorism in Palestine.”
“Hopefully, the visit will result in effective solutions. If Netanyahu will truly visit Egypt, this would be a good step as he would definitely meet with the Palestinian president to speak about the issue,” Haredy concluded.
This was the first visit of an Egyptian official to Israel since 2007, when Ahmed Aboul-Gheit also went with the aim of talking through the peace process with the Israelis.