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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Egypt skeptical about Pal unity; scuttled plan to help Gazans

Yesterday I mentioned that Qatar has given up on any chances for Hamas/Fatah reconciliation, and now Egypt seems to be on that same path.

Palestine Press Agency quotes Egyptian media, with high-ranking Egyptian officials saying that neither Hamas nor Fatah have any real inclination to make peace with each other. They also mentioned, as an aside, that Egypt rejected an idea to help provide Gazans with basic goods.

One official said that Hamas leader Khaled Meshal will not agree to any deal, as "it poses a dilemma for him...he will continue to fabricate pretexts to avoid signing conciliation paper."

Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman said that the unsigned agreement is only a first step, not a final agreement, but the "journey is long and thorny, and there are major political differences between the two sides."

"Even if they signed the paper, reconciliation will not be achieved because they have no real intent and reconciliation is not in the interest of both sides," Suleiman said. "Despite the fact that Fatah signed the agreement, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas does not currently seek to complete the reconciliation due to the current stalemate in the peace process and the failure of the U.S. administration to exert pressure on the current Israeli government. Any reconciliation with Hamas, if only in name, will feed in [Hamas'] own interests and strengthen its position in the West Bank at the expense of Abbas's standing."

The official also points out that Hamas does not want to lose its power over Gaza, nor its money supply from Iran, which would disappear if there was an agreement. In addition, after any unity government, the PA would be able to investigate on Hamas' abuses in Gaza, and Hamas wants to keep itself immune from criticism of its egregious acts towards Gazans.

Egypt also said that it considered creating a market for Gazans at the Rafah border to help ease the blockade, with EU representatives there to ensure that no weapons cross into Gaza, but the idea was ruled out. The fear was that it might play into Israeli plans to not have any responsibility over Gaza altogether and it would saddle Egypt with taking care of the population that it ruled for 19 years.

So, better to let their Gazan brethren rot.