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Friday, March 09, 2012

Is Egypt calling Hamas' bluff on fuel?

Dar Al Hayat, via Palestine Today, reports that an Egyptian official claims that the fuel crisis in Gaza will be solved "within hours."

But there's a catch.

An Egyptian source said that Hamas wants to create a political crisis with Egypt using the electricity crisis that exists in Gaza. He pointed out that Egypt is working hard to resolve this crisis, but that existing Egyptian agreements on the topic are with the PA, not Hamas. He said that a delegation from Ramallah was due in Cairo tomorrow to discuss the issue and make arrangements for the transfer of fuel for Gaza's power plant..

However, he said that Egypt will supply diesel through the Kerem Shalom crossing in coordination with the Israeli side. And, he added, if Israel does anything to hamper the fuel transfer, only then will Egypt provide the diesel through the Rafah crossing to Gaza.

Egypt knows quite well that Israel has not done anything to limit fuel to Gaza through Kerem Shalom, and is willing to restart those transfers as soon as Hamas agrees. And they also know that Hamas is refusing the fuel from Israel because they cannot impose an additional tax on that fuel (beyond the PA tax) without risking a mass uprising of Gazans unwilling to pay the high prices.

In other words, if this story is true, Egypt is getting ready to publicly call out Hamas for their role in creating this artificial crisis, but is first giving them one more chance to quietly give in and start accepting fuel from Israel as they used to.