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Egypt's New Foreign Minister Would Open Border with Gaza

Nabil Al-Arabi, who will be Foreign Minister in an Egyptian transitional cabinet, has initiated many anti-Israel UN resolutions.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/7/2011, 9:33 PM / Last Update: 3/7/2011, 9:40 PM

Egypt's caretaker prime minister, Issam Sharraf, announced Monday the appointment of Nabil al-Arabi as Foreign Minister. Arabi replaces Ahmed Aboul Gheit, who had headed the Foreign Ministry since 2004.

In an article he penned for Egyptian publication Ash-Shurouk last month, Al-Arabi opined that Egypt should rethink its foreign policy following the January rebellion and lift its blockade of Gaza, "which is contrary to the rules of international humanitarian law which prohibits the siege of civilians, even in times of war." Lifting the blockade on the Egyptian border with Gaza could mean that Egypt would allow the uninterrupted flow of weapons into Gaza. This could be a casus belli for Israel, which retreated from Gaza based on the assumption that Egypt would prevent the flow of weapons into it.
 
 
Al-Arabi said he had already met Sharaf and discussed "Arab and African affairs," according to state-run news agency MENA.
 
Al-Arabi is a former judge in the International Court of Justice in The Hague and former Egyptian ambassador to the United Nations. He is considered to be very anti-Israeli and initiated numerous anti-Israeli resolutions in the UN. 
 
Born in 1935, he graduated from the University of Cairo and received a doctorate in Juridicial Science from the School of Law in the University of New York.
 
He served as Egypt's ambassador to India, and was Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva and in New York in the 1980s and 1990s. He was a judge on the International Court of Justice from 2001 to 2006, and has been a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague since 2005.
 
He was legal adviser to the Egyptian delegation during the Camp David peace negotiations in 1978 and chaired the Arab delegation in the negotiations with Israel over the border resort of Taba from 1985 to 1989. He is credited with Egypt's success in wresting all of Taba from Israel. 
 
Egyptian daily Al-Ahram wrote Monday that Egypt's de facto policy toward Israel is unlikely to change, but that the diplomatic tone toward Israel will now become tougher.