Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi agreed to open the Rafah crossing into Gaza to humanitarian aid – after US President Joe Biden spoke with the leader for more than an hour on Air Force One, the president said.
“He agreed that what he would do is open the gate to do two things. One: let up to 20 trucks through to begin with,” Biden told reporters who were traveling with him on his way back from Israel. “My ambassador is— in Cairo now, he’s going to coordinate this. He has my authority to do what is needed to get it done.”
He said he’d been speaking to Sisi the whole time Air Force One was on the tarmac of Ramstein Air Force Base for a refuel. Biden was speaking just over an hour after the plane had landed. “That’s why we haven’t taken off,” he said.
The road into Gaza had to be fixed and potholes filled before the trucks could pass, the president said. He said it would take about eight hours on Thursday to get the work done, and he expected the trucks to be rolling Friday.
The crossing would open only to get aid in, Biden said, not for evacuations.
“For this purpose, not to allow a lot of people out but for this purpose,” he said.
He called it a “very blunt negotiation” with Sisi.
“The commitment is if in fact they cross the border, the UN is going to be on the other side — and then distributing, which is going to take a little time to set up,” he said.
He said that he’d made a commitment that “if Hamas confiscates it or doesn’t let it get through – then it’s going to end. Because we’re not going to be sending humanitarian aid to Hamas.”
Biden called Sisi “very accommodating” and said he deserved some “real credit” for the agreement.