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February 1, 2006
Egypt To Hamas: Recognize Israel

Egypt has stepped into the Palestinian morass with both feet today, warning Hamas that they expect the election winners to recognize Israel and adhere to previous accords -- and they have instructed Mahmoud Abbas to delay asking Hamas to form a new government until Hamas agrees:

Two top Egyptian officials called on Hamas to recognize Israel, disarm and honor past peace deals Wednesday, the latest sign Arab governments are pushing the militant group to moderate after its surprise election victory.

Separately, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official said that Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has told Egyptian officials he would hold off on asking Hamas to form the next Palestinian government until Hamas renounces violence.

The Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, cited Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman as saying that Abbas had made the decision after a meeting with Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

Suleiman could not immediately be reached to verify the statement. But earlier, he told journalists in Cairo that Egypt intends to tell Hamas leaders that they must recognize Israel, disarm and honor past peace deals. Hamas won Palestinian parliamentary elections in a landslide last week.

This will serve as a blow to Hamas' hopes of replacing Western aid with money from Arab nations. It won't have any impact on Iran, but Egypt's demand for Palestinians to stick to their agreements will set the tone for the rest of the Arab League. No one pretends that the Palestinians have much popularity with Arab nations any more, although they still like to exploit the "Palestinian question" as a rationale for their own oppressive regimes.

Without significant assistance from Arab nations, Hamas has to be completely reliant on Iran for its funding -- and that might well disappear once economic sanctions are in place. The Quartet can put a stranglehold on that funding by freezing Iranian assets and international transfers, making the Iranians a highly unstable partner. They will go bankrupt very quickly if that happens, and it looks like it could happen at any time.

Where does that leave Hamas? They will control the government, which Fatah shrewdly refuses to join, at the very moment it stops functioning. They will fail to meet payrolls, meaning the services for which they supposedly got elected will disappear. The army they want to raise won't march on promises for long. They will find themselves in charge while their world collapses around them, and their electorate will learn a lesson about electing unrepentant terrorists as a government. Hopefully, this lesson will not be undercut by Western nations stumbling over themselves yet again to save the Palestinians from their own stupid choices.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 1, 2006 6:34 AM

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Captain's Quarters comments on Egypt's warning to Hamas that it had better recognize Israel. I like these concluding remarks: Without significant assistance from Arab nations, Hamas has to be completely reliant on Iran for its funding -- and that might... [Read More]

Tracked on February 2, 2006 12:49 AM


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