Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Gaza drifts away from West Bank and towards Egypt

From the Council on Foreign Relations (USA), July 23, 2012, by Elliott Abrams:
Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi (R) meets with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal at the presidential palace in Cairo, July 19, 2012. (Courtesy REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh) Egypt's President Mohamed Mursi (R) meets with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Cairo, July 19, 2012.
(Courtesy REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh)

...Egypt’s new MB president, Mohammed Morsi, met in Cairo last week with the Hamas leader Khaled Meshal (and will meet soon with the Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh). According to the Hamas spokesman, Gaza will soon be connected to the Egyptian electricity grid and natural gas pipeline. This means its economy will be tied to Egypt, not Israel—its current energy supplier.
The ability of Gazans to travel to Egypt is also being broadened. Some
press reports state that “Egyptian officials announced Monday that Palestinians will no longer need visas to enter the country, ending part of a five-year blockade on the Gaza Strip …. Gazans will now be able to leave the coastal enclave freely. ....” ...
...an opening of the border and a reliance on Egypt for energy will cut ties between Gaza and Israel and closely connect Gaza to Egypt while the West Bank faces Jordan. In the short run the impact may be small, but over the years it seems likely that Gaza and the West Bank will grow further and further apart.

From American Interest, July 16, 2012, by Walter Russell Mead: 
...Mohamed Morsi has shown some signs of being open to a change in border policy between Egypt and the Gaza Strip...
...if the Morsi administration eventually goes ahead with this plan, it would change the Egypt-Gaza-Israel relationship in a big way. Gaza could become a de facto protectorate of Egypt ...and the remaining ties between Gaza and the West Bank would start to fray. This would leave the West Bank to negotiate with Israel on its own while Gaza charted its own path in orbit around Egypt.
... Deeper economic ties between Egypt and Gaza will give Cairo much more influence over the Strip and Cairo needs reasonably smooth relations with Israel to focus on its own economic development. Egypt may not like its peace treaty with Israel but it cannot afford a war. It is particularly averse to the idea that a handful of hot headed radicals in Gaza could drag all of Egypt into an unwanted war.
...Gaza wouldn’t recognize Israel but it wouldn’t be able to fight it, and putting Gaza under Egyptian tutelage would also get Israel off the hook in terms of being criticized internationally for the blockade.
Nothing is risk free in the Middle East and nothing is perfect, but if I were an Israeli political leader, I just might be pleased to see Gaza and Cairo growing closer together.
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