By Ted Belman
Daniel Pipes has written an important article advising How to turn Gaza over to Egypt.
Egypt is trying to once a gain seal the borders while lettings arms to be smuggled in and Hamas is objecting to the reinstitution of the international monitoring of the border. They want control of it.
Egypt’s Muslim Brethren, a Hamas ally, demands the Gaza border be opened. Can Mubarak ignore these demands, popular among Egyptians? In effect, Gaza has already begun imposing itself on an unwilling Egypt.
Robert Satloff of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy suggests to me that Jerusalem announce three steps: “a date certain for the severing of Israel’s provision of water, electricity and trade access, free entry for replacement services through Egypt, and an invitation for international support to link Gaza to Egyptian grids.”
These Israeli initiatives would force the Egyptian hand. Sure, the Egyptians, with help from Fatah and even Hamas, will try to resurrect the border and put the onus back on Israel. But in the end, Arab solidarity demands that Egyptian “brothers” fill in for the Israeli enemy. Once Jerusalem cuts supplies, Cairo has no choice but to furnish them. Economic dependence would then further involve Egypt, which has further consequences. It:
# Revives the old idea of resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict via a three-way partition by Egypt, Israel, and Jordan.
# Permits Hamas to connect with its parent organization, the Muslim Brethren. Indeed, Egyptian security forces have already arrested at least 12 armed Hamas members in Egypt and other Gazans with suicide belts. Controlling Islamist violence out of Gaza will become an Egyptian priority – but Mubarak has coped with Islamists throughout his 27-year presidency and he can deal with this new challenge in ways that Israel cannot.
# Limits the freedom for Hamas and Islamic Jihad to attack Israel. Yes, Egyptians want rockets falling on Sderot, but Cairo knows that their continuation invites Israeli reprisals and possibly a full-scale war.
TO PREVENT Gazans from creating trouble in Egypt or attacking Israel requires heavy policing of their territory. This presumably means loosening the stringent restrictions on the deployment of Egyptian forces near the border with Israel in Annex I to the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. Fortunately, Egyptian security services in Gaza need be only lightly armed and the Multinational Force Observers in the Sinai peninsula could add this monitoring duty to their tasks.
In brief, Gaza can be dumped on Egypt with confidence that the Egyptians must accept it and must impede Gazans from attacking Israel. Starting this “peace process,” though, will require uncharacteristic imagination and energy from Israel and the Western states
I don’t see this scenario happening any time soon. Israel’s problem isn’t that she has to supply certain things, it is that Hamas keeps firing rockets at her. Egypt has been unwilling to stop the smuggling and she certainly will not stop the firing of rockets. Nor will she want to strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood by connecting with Gaza.
Arlene Kushner reports of correspondence with Pipes
In a nutshell: He believes that to take on Hamas would not be difficult for Egypt. “…the dinky Hamas structure could be swooped up in a few days by the government of Egypt.” He certainly does not believe that Egypt feels benevolent towards Israel, and would stop Hamas from launching Kassams at us for our sake. Rather, he believes that Egypt would feel constrained to stop Hamas because of what Israeli deterrence exists and the realization that all out war might proceed if they continued to allow it. As he says in his piece today, “Mubarak has coped with Islamists throughout his 27-year presidency and he can deal with this new challenge in ways that Israel cannot.” This is most certainly the case.
I still say Egypt is not going to do it.
Nor will Arab solidarity demand that Egyptian “brothers” fill in for the Israeli enemy. The pressure will remain on Israel. Who cares about the Palestinians? No one.
Why should Cairo care if continued rocket fire causes “Israeli reprisals and possibly a full-scale war.” After all terror is intended to bring this result.
The last thing Cairo wants is to be responsible to suppress the “resistance”.
No, I think Daniel has lost it here.
Arlene goes on in her analysis
What would be required for this scenario to be enacted, however, would be a willingness on the part of Israel to allow additional armed forces into the area of Gaza — beyond what is permitted by our peace treaty with Egypt, which rendered the Sinai demilitarized.
Egypt is currently requesting that its force of 750 be doubled. Foreign Ministry officials are inclined to go along with this, but the Defense Ministry is solidly opposed, believing that Egypt could do more with the troops they have.
And there is solid reason for this reluctance. Egypt has permitted the smuggling of weapons into Gaza, and has failed to do its part per agreements.
As I’ve indicated previously, this has huge implications for us, and I will continue to follow this closely.
What I find amusing is that Abbas has now announced that Fatah is prepared to take over the Rafah crossing, in accordance with the 2005 agreement. Guess he doesn’t know yet that he’s being rendered less and less significant. Don’t hold your breath that this is going to happen.
Of considerably more significance is that the IDF, along with plans for a large scale invasion of Gaza, is drawing up a plan to retake the Philadelphi Corridor — which stretches for 10 km. along the border between Gaza and the Sinai. This plan would include a sealing of the border, destruction of smuggling tunnels, taking out of weapons warehouses located in that area, and an assessment of Hamas capabilities.
Defense officials are saying they would expedite this plan if Hamas began launching more sophisticated rockets rather than Kassams.
When plans are complete, they must be submitted to the political echelon for approval. Is Olmert ready to defend Israel yet?
If we were, finally and at last, to do that large scale invasion, this would have to be factored into the equation of what follows in Gaza.
Also significant is this, from Egypt: Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Egypt’s foreign minister, gave a late night interview on Egyptian TV, during which he was particularly harsh and direct. Egypt permitted the breaching of the fence temporarily for humanitarian reasons, he said, but now, “Anyone who violates Egypt’s borders will get his legs broken.”
He blamed Israel for the crisis because of collective punishment, but also blamed Hamas:
“After Hamas’s takeover of Gaza, it has decided to clash with Israel, though this clash seems to be a laughable caricature, because clashing with an opponent in battle is supposed to mean damaging them. You do not go into battle just to damage yourself.”
Hamas did not receive these words gladly. Hamas spokesman Aami Abu Zuhri actually called them “inappropriate” and said Egypt should be focused on criticizing Israel. Additionally he said he did not believe this reflected the official Egyptian position. No? The words of the foreign minister?
“All we want is an open border crossing,” Abu Zuhri said. “Instead of making these threats against the Palestinian people, he [Aboul Gheit] should voice his anger against the Israeli occupation, which is what is closing the border crossings between Gaza and Egypt.”
Huh? A rather garbled version of the situation. Is there anything that is not because of “Israeli occupation”? Stay tuned folks.
Foreign Minister Livni met today with US envoy Gen. James Jones and told him that the threats from Gaza must cease before a Palestinian state can be established.
I continue to see this sort of statement, which is true enough as far as it goes, as rather ridiculous. For the question remains as to WHY we are now negotiating with Abbas, when he claims that Gaza will be part of the future Palestinian state but he has no control whatsoever over Gaza.
It’s a charade, a case of the emperor’s clothes. The West and our government are pretending that a “two state” solution can be achieved, when in fact the evidence is that the myth of Palestinian nationalism has been destroyed to a large extent. (It was Daniel Pipes who pointed out last week that Gazans have more in common in language and culture with Egypt than with the Arabs in Judea and Samaria.)
I confess that I have difficulty here — there’s a sort of mental dissonance. On the one hand I’m looking at serious analyses regarding Gaza as a radical Islamic mini-state and possible Egyptian assumption of responsibility for Gaza. And then I turn around and read statements by Abbas and Livni that take none of this into account.
Consider this statement by Livni: “A real response must be given to the threats from the Gaza Strip prior to the establishment of a Palestinian state – as long as the Palestinians see Gaza as part of the state they intend to establish.” Does this mean if the Palestinians relinquished the idea of Gaza as part of their state, then we wouldn’t have to respond to the threats? Are we supposed to respond to make us safer or to make the situation better for Abbas and his dreams?