The return of thousands of Muslim pilgrims who had made the trip to Mecca and were trying to re-enter Gaza has created a diplomatic crisis between Egypt and Israel. The Egyptian government originally said the pilgrims had to re-enter at the Kerem Shalom crossing which is under Israeli control, but yesterday they changed their minds and allowed the two thousand to cross over in Gaza at a different check point. The Israel authorities claim there were several key Hamas military leaders hidden in the crowd and they were bringing in millions of dollars collected while in Saudi Arabia.
Accusations are flying back and forth between the two nations. Perhaps, lost in the acrimonious exchange is a more fundamental issue– how does the peace process involve Hamas? Israel refuses any relationship with Hamas and President Abbas will not work with that group until it restores Gaza to control of his Fatah. Perhaps, it is time for all sides to involve Hamas and get them talking rather than remaining on the outside as troublemakers. Of course, there is an irony in the situation– Hamas collected money while in Saudi Arabia, one of America’s key allies.