May 24, 2024 - World

Egypt agrees to resume aid to Gaza through Israel after U.S. pressure

Aid trucks

UN aid trucks wait for Israel's permission before entering Gaza on April 23. Photo: Anas Zeyad Fteha/Anadolu via Getty Images

Under U.S. pressure, the Egyptian government agreed to resume the flow of aid trucks to Gaza through Israel, after deliveries were halted two weeks ago in protest of Israel's takeover of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing.

Why it matters: The Egyptian decision two weeks ago dramatically reduced the amount of aid entering Gaza and exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in the Palestinian enclave.

What they're saying: President Biden spoke on Friday with Egyptian President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi and asked him to resume the delivery of the aid trucks, U.S. officials said.

  • Sisi agreed "to permit the flow of UN-provided humanitarian assistance from Egypt through the Kerem Shalom crossing on a provisional basis for onward distribution throughout Gaza," according to a U.S. readout.
  • "This will help save lives," the White House said.
  • Egypt said the two sides agreed to transfer aid trucks and fuel through Kerem Shalom "temporarily" until an agreement to reopen the Rafah crossing is reached, according to a readout from the presidential office.

Behind the scenes: The Biden administration repeatedly pressed Egypt over the last two weeks to resume the delivery of aid trucks, with many U.S. officials expressing frustration about the Sisi government's behavior.

  • The Biden administration was so concerned about the situation that some U.S. officials claimed the Egyptian move could be a violation of the Foreign Assistance Act.
  • The 1961 law bars countries that receive U.S. assistance from obstructing delivery of U.S.-supported humanitarian aid.

Between the lines: Earlier this month, Israel presented Egypt with a plan to reopen the Rafah crossing with Palestinian representatives and UN personnel under Israeli supervision and military protection, according to a source familiar with the matter.

  • The plan called for the transfer of aid trucks from Egypt to take place only via the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza, where the trucks would be checked by Israel before entering.
  • Senior U.S. officials were also involved in the talks and pressured Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority to find a solution that would allow the reactivation of the Rafah crossing as soon as possible.
  • The main goal of the plan was to remove Hamas from involvement in the Rafah crossing.

What to watch: The U.S. will send a senior team to Cairo next week for further discussions on the issue, the White House said.

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