Egyptian officials have played a key role in brokering the current cease fire between Hamas and Israel although they have little doubt the truce may unravel in the coming weeks. They believe a key factor in achieving any permanent resolution of problems in the dispute with Israel centers around the ability of Hamas and Fatah to end their dispute and present a united front. It is expected there will be a prisoner swap in the coming weeks which would result in return of a captured Israeli soldier, but some Egyptian officials fear achieving that goal might worsen rather than assist further efforts to maintain the true. Once Israel has the soldier, there is less incentive to maintain the truce agreement.
Hamas leaders and many Gazans want Egypt to unilaterally open the Rafah crossings but President Mubarak refuses to take such a step. He fears Egyptian assumption of such power would lead Israel to simply wash its hands of the entire Gaza situation and leave Egypt with the problem of supplying electricity and other needs to Gazans. This is not a burden the economically stressed nation of Egypt seeks to acquire.
In the end, Egyptian officials insist Fatah and Hamas have to get together and work in a cooperative approach to restrain militants who want to destroy any effort at resolving problems with Israel. The feeling in Cairo is– it’s your problem, not ours.
Senior representatives of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad met in Egypt with officials in order to discuss implementation of a truce, or at least, a period of calm in order to restore some semblance of tranquility for all involved in the current Gaza crisis. Ahmed Youssef, adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, said his organization is also prepared to work with the Yemenite “initiative which aims to resolve the rilvary between Hamas and Fatah.” He emphasized that Hamas is trying to maintain contacts with European representatives from Britain, Sweden, and France who are trusted to be fair.
Russia is attempting to use a conference on the Middle East which is being held in Moscow to further efforts at compromise. Russan Foreign Ministe Sergey Lavrov urged Israel to end the Gaza blockade and restore normalcy to the area. He also indicated his government wants an end to violence on the part of Hamas as well as an end to further construction on the West Bank.
A period of calm is despertately needed in order to give everyone a breathing space to digest what has happened and what are the potential directions for all parties if there is to be a more permanent peace in the region.
Posted in Human Rights, Islam, Israel, Military, Muslims, Peace, Politics, Russia
Tagged Fatah, Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Russia
Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal, defiantly told the world the only road open to the people of Palestine was “resistance.” He claimed some Europeans offered to facilitate unofficial meetings with Israel and he responded with “one thousand nos.” On the other hand, he did speak in a conciliatory way toward rival Fatah led by President Abbas and offered to hold unconditional discussions with the Palestinian Authority. “We are ready for a dialogue without conditions. Our hands are extended and all matters should be put on the table including elections.” He also insisted no Israel soldier in their hands would be returned without receiving in return the release of several key Palestinian leaders.
Perhaps Mahsaal doesn’t grasp the contradiction inherent in his remarks. On one hand, he rejects discussions with Israel and a cease fire, but on the other hand, he is willing to negotiate with Abbas who wants peace with Israel and a cease fire. Both goals are incompatible with one another. A mistake was made in failing to include Hamas at the Annapolis Conference. Mashaal has to be in a room with other Arab nations who are tired of the war between Israel and Palestine and seek peace. They will control him, not Israel.
Posted in Human Rights, Islam, Israel, Judaism, Multicultural, Muslims, Peace, Politics, World News
Tagged Fatah, Hamas, Israel, Palestinian peace, prisoner release
Palestinian authorities told the Jersualem Post that any massive attacks by israeli forces on Gaza would seriously damage any efforts to attain peace. They warned such actions would compel the Palestinian Authority to call off scheduled talks with Israel as a follow up to the Annapolis Conference. Meanwhile, Kadoura Fares, a top Fatah operative in the West Bank, confirmed his faction would fight alongside Hamas forces to resist Israel troops. “Fath will fight alongside all the palestinian groups against the Israel army when it invades the Gaza Strip. In such a case, Hamas won’t be left alone in the confrontation with Israel.”
Palestinian authorities have informed the United States they would not be able to sit at a negotiating table if Israel troops are fighting in Gaza. The path to peace is strewn with potholes and detours as was encountered by those who resolved the Irish conflict or for white Europeans who negotiated with Nelson Mandela. As one Palestinian official noted, “In the post Annapolis era, we are supposed to talk about ways of making peace, instead, here we are talking about preparations for the next war.” The announcement by the Olmert government of further construction of housing in the West Bank is another example of confusion in the Israel government regarding how it intends to confront peace negotiations. Expanding West Bank settlements or pondering invasions of the Gaza Strip are hardly messages of peace and friendship to one’s opponents.
Thousands of people gathered on Monday in a Gaza square to remember their fallen leader Yasser Arafat. It was the first major opposition rally allowed by Hamas which seized Gaza from the Fatah several months ago, but Hamas leaders feared forbidding the gathering would antagonize the Gaza population. As people listened to speeches, gunfire suddenly sounded and within a few moments six lay dead while dozens were wounded. People fled for their lives as guns sounded in the air. Fatah spokesperson, Mohammed Dahlan asserted the firing began when people from a nearby Islamic university entered the square, but Hamas claims Fatah began the firing. The Fatah leadership in Gaza believed the huge mass of people was an expression by the Gaza population that it disagrees with the Hamas seizure of power.
This incident is further evidence of a deep seated fissure between Hamas and Fatah which currently makes difficult reaching an agreement with Israel. This makes even more important the necessity of inviting Hamas to the Annapolis conference in order that other Arab nations can assist in the process of bringing these factions together.