Friday, June 30, 2006

Diplomatic Maneuvering Over Gaza

The Jerusalem Post reports on the diplomatic efforts of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarek. His attempts to negotiate a settlement between the Hamas-led Palestinian government and Israelis caused a delay in Israel's Operation Summer Rains.

The agreement that Mubarak claimed to have reached with the kidnappers involved an Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and the release of prisoners scheduled to be released anyway in the next year, in exchange for the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit who was kidnapped on Sunday, Palestinian sources said.

At Captain's Quarters, Ed Morrissey highlights a key implication of Mubarek's diplomacy, that "having Mubarak point out publicly that Hamas started the problem and that their policies are to blame for the current situation certainly represents some progress." He may be understating the anger Egypt has towards Hamas for being so provocative. Palestinian terrorists recently destroyed part of the wall separating Egypt and Gaza, prompting Egypt to increase border patrols to prevent Palestinians from crossing into their country.

He also highlights something else from the Post article that may prove somewhat more disturbing.
The Egyptian president also demanded from his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad to deport the Syrian-based Hamas leadership unless it agreed to Shalit, Palestinian sources said. He warned [Hamas leader Khaled] Mashaal that by insisting that thousands of Palestinian detainees be released in exchange for Shalit, he was leading the Palestinians to disaster, Israel Radio reported.

It seems unlikely that Mashaal will actually be deported, but there is apparently a power struggle taking place within Hamas, and his deportation might actually make the political situation in Gaza more dangerous for Israel. Via Big Pharaoh, the Jerusalem Post reports on the political battle within Hamas.
Today [6/28] it is evident that there are two major forces in Hamas - one headed by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and the second by Damascus-based Khaled Mashaal. Haniyeh represents the relatively moderate and pragmatic camp in Hamas, whereas Mashaal is viewed as a hardliner who is taking Hamas toward further extremism.


[Hamas PM Ismail] Haniyeh's strategy over the past few months has been to avoid resuming terror attacks on Israel. That's mainly because he wants to succeed in government and to prove to the world that Hamas is capable of running the day-to-day affairs of the Palestinian public. To the dismay of Mashaal, Haniyeh has even stated in public that he was not opposed to Abbas's desire to resume peace talks with Israel.

Unless Mashaal is intercepted by Israel, and I don't see how Syria would agree to a deportation if that were likely to occur, his presence amongst the Palestinians could result in even turmoil and bloodshed than we are already experiencing.

Meanwhile, Israellycool is still liveblogging the operation. And again, here is the map of Gaza from the University of Texas Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection.

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