June 21, 2007

Under Pressure, Egypt Offers Peace Conference

Egypt has decided to grasp an opportunity to play peacemaker in the wake of the Hamas coup in Gaza. Under pressure from the US, it wants to demonstrate its moderate bona fides and attempt to use this moment as an opportunity to bolster the more moderate and secular faction in the West Bank. So far, the invitees to Egypt's conference sound enthusiastic:

The Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, has invited the Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian leaders to a summit next week, Palestinian officials have said.

Israel said a meeting could take place, but that nothing had been decided.

The talks between Israeli PM Ehud Olmert and the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, would be the first since Hamas won elections 18 months ago.

The conditions could be right for a real advance in peace negotiations, and it couldn't come at a better time for Hosni Mubarak. Congress just voted to partially restrict aid to Egypt, tiring of Mubarak's lack of action on the Gaza border. They want Egypt to stop the tunnelling operations that allowed Hamas to garner so much weaponry for its coup, and also reportedly allows other Islamist groups access to Gaza as well. Mubarak could lose $200 million a year if he doesn't do something spectacular soon.

For Mahmoud Abbas, the time may also be right. Under attack from the Islamists, he needs powerful friends if he expects to remain alive for any length of time. Saeb Arakat stated the obvious: if the PA is to remain viable, it has to deliver an end to occupation and a peace settlement with which everyone can live -- literally. The longer conditions remain unstable, the more likely Hamas or other Islamists will eventually conduct a similar coup in the West Bank. Now that Hamas has rebelled and has sequestered themselves idiotically in Gaza, Abbas no longer has to court their agreement on a deal for the West Bank, which gives him more flexibility with Israel.

Israel and the US have to enjoy the conditions on the ground for this round of talks, which the US apparently will not attend. For the first time in years, they can ignore Hamas and its leadership in Syria. Also, for the first time, they have a purported partner in Abbas who needs a deal more than Israel does. That could give them an actual opening for a settlement that would satisfy at least the moderate Arab nations, and help them to isolate Iran and Syria diplomatically.

The time may be right for these peace talks -- because Abbas has lost his triangle-strategy partners at long last.


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Comments (6)

Posted by David M | June 21, 2007 8:56 AM

Trackbacked by The Thunder Run - Web Reconnaissance for 06/21/2007
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Posted by wham1000 | June 21, 2007 8:57 AM

Despite there extremist and lethal conduct Hamas represents more than half of the population, tired by 15 years of corruption and nepotism from Fatah. There will be no solution without including Hamas. Worse, because of there radicalism and discipline, they will, against all odds, in the end prevail in both Gaza and the West Bank as documented by the action of similar extremist group today. Ignoring this situation will once again lead to the opposite result.

Posted by jeff | June 21, 2007 9:26 AM

I doubt this will go far even though the last thing Egypt wants is a festering Islamic fascist movement on their border... they have enough of that already without Hamas. There is no peace with Hamas and Egypt knows that better than most. If Egypt and Israel would cooperate in a pincer movement on Hamas then that might yield something.

The tragic irony is that Egypt (and Jordan) are just now getting serious about "peace" because their own stability is threatened, not because of Israel but at the hands of Iran. The irony is that Israel's existence is more threatened by Iran than anything else in the region. Who would have thought that the enemy of my enemy would be the undoing of the "blame Israel" ideology that has permeated the region for 50 years.

Posted by mojo | June 21, 2007 10:42 AM

Get them all together in one place - then blow up the building.

Good plan, I like it.

Posted by cpourtneyme109 | June 21, 2007 10:46 AM

Well, maybe it's time for Egypt's army to slap on some Palestinian decals and do the La La Fallujah Manuver - you know - surround, cut off Gaza and go through it house to house. Aside from getting to use their brand new M1 Tanks, Egypt's army would have a wonderful chance to smoke out Muslim Brotherhood members in their ranks, command and control exercises and combined arms missions.

It would also send a wonderful message to Iran that the Sunni Arab League is not about to get blown away in a landslide of Iranian funded thugs who really desire the Ummah to envelop the entire ME.

Posted by patrick neid | June 21, 2007 5:58 PM

Egypt is in trouble. first the possible constraint on our aid, up to 5 billion per year and the real threat--hamas turning on them. with israel sealing gaza, hamas can only get things through egypt. if egypt, under pressure from us stops all weapon flows, hamas will turn on egypt.

no wonder they are crying for peace. i say don't give them any for a while. keep everybody's feet to the fire. let this cook a while longer........