Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promoting his plan to resettle refugees from Gaza to neighboring Egypt in negotiations with diplomats in the European Union. However, the massive transfer of approximately two million inhabitants is rejected both by Egypt itself and by large European states such as France, Germany and Great Britain.
However, according to information from The Financial Times, the idea was also supported by two EU states – the Czech Republic and Austria – at closed diplomatic meetings.
Although the Czech Republic is a well-known friend of Israel, for which it stands during votes in the UN and elsewhere, by supporting the resettlement of a huge number of civilians, it would be denying its long-term migration policy – in which it usually insists on the principle that people in need should be helped on the spot.
Given Egypt’s reluctance to accept the Palestinians, the millions of impoverished residents of the Gaza Strip would likely find themselves in a difficult position. Egypt is already plagued by economic problems, including high unemployment and rising prices. There are therefore fears that Palestinians could try to reach Europe after the eviction.
“If there were more problems in the region, we would immediately have huge problems in Europe because of refugees,” European Council chief Charles Michel said clearly in an interview with the AP agency.
Gaza cries for help, civilians suffer
Read about the suffering of civilians in the Gaza Strip:
So do the Czechs risk unleashing a new wave of migration by lobbying for the Israeli government’s proposal? This is not so certain, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is apparently keeping its hands off this activity: “Please contact the Government Office with these questions, which is in charge of negotiations at the level of governments and the European Council,” Czech diplomacy spokesman Daniel Drake wrote in response to SZ’s questions.
“We don’t send anyone anywhere,” a senior representative of the department objected during a chance meeting with the author of the article.
However, government spokesman Václav Smolka did not directly deny the above-mentioned diplomatic activity: “We do not comment on leaks of information from closed negotiations,” he replied, saying that in general it is the long-term effort of the government that the situation regarding refugees is always resolved in the region where the given conflict is taking place. He then emphasized the Czech contribution in accepting refugees from Ukraine and the need to defend against illegal migration.
Biden agreed with Sisi
US President Joe Biden also spoke out against sending Palestinians from Gaza during an interview with his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi: “They also discussed the importance of protecting the lives of civilians, respecting international humanitarian law and ensuring that Palestinians from Gaza are not relocated to Egypt or another country.” it is written on the website of the White House.
According to migration expert Vít Novotný, the slogan of Czech politicians about helping potential refugees in their home countries is really just a slogan, it doesn’t really apply much. “There is no evidence that providing assistance on the ground prevents further migration in any way,” he says. He adds, however, that on-the-spot assistance would not apply to this specific situation, i.e. to the area where the war is directly taking place.
He sees the possibility of a refugee wave in the event of the transfer of two million people to Egypt as realistic: “Yes, it could rise. If we take the option that Egypt would agree to the transfer, it would have to provide accommodation for two million people. Logic dictates that many of them would try to get to a friendlier place, i.e. Europe,” thinks Vít Novotný.
According to him, illegal migration from Egypt is now quite small, because the journey across the Mediterranean Sea is long and migration is also prevented by the Egyptian coast guard. People fleeing the country are therefore more likely to choose the route through Libya. “The truth is, if I had to choose between two bad options, people would probably be better off in Egypt than in Gaza,” he admits.