President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi and France’s President Emmanuel Macron met yesterday at the Elysee Palace in Paris to discuss topics including the escalating violence in Israel and Palestine and the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute, according to a presidential statement.
According to the statement, Macron expressed appreciation for Egypt’s efforts to restore peace in Israel and Palestine as the two leaders deliberated means to attain peace in the region. Sisi stated that the violence should cease as soon as possible and a solution must be reached which guarantees the rights of the Palestinian people and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
Sisi also stressed that, in relation to Ethiopia’s construction of the GERD, Egypt will not accept any attempts to harm their rights to the Nile’s water. He also stated that “a fair and legally binding agreement that guarantees clear rules for the process of filling and operating the dam and achieves the common interests of all parties” must be reached.
The talks took place as a part of an international conference in support of Sudan’s democratic transition. In a speech made yesterday, Sisi described Sudan as “an integral part of the security and stability of Egypt and the region at large,” and pledged to confront attempts to divide the Sudanese people.
The conference follows escalating violence in Israel and Palestine over the past week, where the Israeli military have conducted numerous air strikes on the Gaza strip and Palestinian militants have reportedly launched 3000 rockets into Israel. At least 212 Palestinians in Gaza and ten people in Israel, including two children, have reportedly died.
According to the BBC, US President Joe Biden has called for a ceasefire, despite the US recently blocking a UN Security Council statement calling for an end to the violence.
In terms of the GERD, despite mediation and ongoing negotiations since 2011, a concrete agreement is yet to be reached. The $USD 4.8 billion hydropower project, which is set to be completed in 2022, has the potential to boost Ethiopia’s economy and provide enough clean electricity to lift millions out of poverty.
The project has been a pressing point of contention with the downstream nations of Egypt and Sudan as its construction threatens their already dwindling water supply.
Historically, Egypt has enjoyed a considerable share of the Nile’s water due to the 1902 and 1929 colonial-era agreements implemented by the British, as well as a 1959 post-independence bilateral agreement between Egypt and Sudan. These agreements allocated Egypt 55.5 billion cubic meters water and Sudan 18.5 billion cubic metres.