The war in Gaza is showing some signs of winding down. When it does end, the next question will be who will win the peace? At least one Arab nation is putting its thumb on the scale—in favor of Israel. VOA reports that when Egypt recently conveyed terms from the various Palestinian factions to Israel, it added several Egyptian reservations that would significantly hamper the Gazan terrorist group going forward:
Cairo might contemplate easing the limited freedom of movement across its own border with Gaza, but was unlikely to accept Palestinian calls to allow a normal flow of trade, Egyptian diplomatic sources said.
Egypt insists that any discussion over the Rafah border crossing take place bilaterally with the Palestinian Authority rather than as part of any overall deal between the Palestinians and Israel to ease the blockade, the sources said.
The border closure, which is gradually strangling Hamas, was a major factor leading to the beginning of the current conflict. By conveying this proposal with these reservations, Egypt is signaling its determination to maintain a stranglehold on Hamas—which would suit Israel just fine. Egypt’s military government, for its part, sees Hamas as kissing cousins to the Muslim Brotherhood, the military’s inveterate enemy.
As WRM pointed out recently, this round of Israel-Palestinian fighting was particularly protracted because core interests are at stake. This was the case not merely for Israel and Hamas, but in regard to the Arab actors in the region who would normally try to wind down a war when Israel was winning, if not openly aid the Palestinians. Instead, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and a number of other countries have been quietly urging Israel to give Hamas the pummeling they believe it needs.
Long-term, this may be promising for Israel, implying a sort of backhanded acceptance that may in time become more. Short-term, it helps to build an anti-Hamas, anti-Hezbollah, and ultimately anti-Iran consensus in the Middle East.