Thursday, February 19, 2009

Did Egypt sabotage deal over Gaza, Shalit?

A Good Piece and Recommended Reading

Amal Ghazal, The Electronic Intifada, 18 February 2009

"......While this claim has been debunked, even mocked, by many Arabs who accuse their regimes of not only collaboration with Israel but also complicity in the continuing suppression of Palestinian resistance movements, that collaboration has now been documented and exposed with the unearthing of official records. This history came alive during the recent war on Gaza and the Egyptian government's (and other Arab governments') complicity in this war provided a clear idea of the organic relationship between Israel and some of those regimes which do not refrain from or hesitate to sacrifice the Palestinian question for their own political ends.

The complicity of the Egyptian regime extends to the negotiations mediated by Cairo. In fact, that regime is not a mediator between two sides or an honest deal maker; its interests meet those of Israel to the extent that it is functioning as a broker on behalf of Israel. The war on Gaza left us with one eye set on the scenes of carnage in Gaza itself and another on Cairo, where the Egyptian negotiating team was trying to pressure the Palestinians (through Hamas) into surrender, something that Israel was not able to achieve by sheer military force. The international outcry, Hamas' ability to absorb the Israeli attacks and the resolve of Palestinians in Gaza provided the Hamas delegation in Cairo with a political leverage that allowed it to resist Egyptian pressure and intimidation. And as has been revealed through some recent leaks to the press, the Egyptians have utilized various intimidating techniques in order to force Hamas into accepting the terms proposed by Israel. It may be a matter of time before we know those details which will reinforce the idea that the Egyptian negotiating team wanted to impose the Israeli terms rather than negotiate a fair agreement. An indication of Egypt's readiness to push Hamas into surrender was the original Egyptian proposal to discuss a 10- to 15-year ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. Hamas' refusal to negotiate such a long-term agreement finally led to a negotiation of an 18-month agreement. As revealed by confidential sources, below is what the Egyptians have been proposing in terms of a two-phase agreement, followed by a Hamas counter-proposal.....

Egypt's determination to have the Shalit file in its hands, in an effort to restore some credibility for its regional role, explains the recent developments regarding that issue. Israel had agreed to negotiate Shalit's release in a separate agreement. France was mediating between Hamas and Israel for a prisoner exchange and might have been close to reaching an agreement agreeable to both parties. However, Israel's recent demand to make Shalit's release part of the overall agreement and even tie it to the opening of the crossings is a new position. It appears that Egypt sabotaged the French initiative after Hosni Mubarak's visit to France last week....

The second goal is to reach an agreement that would be acceptable to Israel, and by extension, to the United States. But Suleiman's eagerness to please Israel and the US has a broader objective. Suleiman wants to prove that he is the man in control, and behind him, the military and intelligence establishment. Suleiman, and the military establishment in general, are not very keen on the idea of Gamal Mubarak succeeding his father......"

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