Egypt’s Foreign Minister, Sameh Hassan Shoukry, has said that the killing of Palestinian children by Israel cannot be deemed as terrorism, because terrorism is vaguely defined.
It comes amidst latest signs of a warming relationship developing between the two countries, the best in many years, with Israel calling Egypt its ‘strategic treasure’.
Sameh Shoukry made the comments on Sunday during a meeting with high school students in response to a question whether the Israeli killing of Palestinian children is a form of terrorism, The New Arab’s Cairo correspondent reported.
“[Israeli killing of Palestinian children] cannot be classed as terrorism without there being an international agreement on the exact definition of terrorism,” Shoukry told students at the Foreign Ministry.
“There are terms used internationally such as ‘state terrorism’ which are used by some countries to go after their opponents abroad or oppress domestic opposition.”
He added that Palestine was “in the hearts of Egyptians” and that they will always champion their cause no matter how complex the matter is.
In recent years, hundreds of Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli forces.
Pro-government media in Egypt have reported on Shoukry's meeting with the students, however, they have opted to omit his comments on the killing of Palestinian children.
During the 2014 Israeli assault on Gaza, more than 500 children were killed and many teens have been killed during the recent wave of stabbing attacks, which began last year.
Pro-government media in Egypt have reported on Shoukry’s meeting with the students, however, they have opted to omit his comments on the killing of Palestinian children.
The Foreign Ministry put out a statement late on Monday, denying that Shoukry had made the comments and claiming that he merely said that many countries have conflicting views on the definition of terrorism.
Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, however, the deal has been unpopular with many Egyptians, who have long called for it to be rescinded.
But under the presidency of Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Israel has emerged as a close ally to Cairo.
In July, Shoukry met with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in a bid to revive peace efforts with Palestinians, on the first such visit to Israel in nearly a decade.
Israel has praised Sisi for his tough stance on Islamic extremists and saluted “unprecedented” intelligence cooperation with Egypt to combat the Islamic State group [IS] in Sinai.
Egyptian political analyst Amgad al-Gabbas told The New Arab that he was “not surprised” by the foreign minister’s remarks.
“All evidence points to Israeli-Egyptian relations being at their highest point ever – even more so that during the Mubarak era. The Israelis have gone as far as calling Egypt a ‘strategic treasure’.”
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