Egypt has drifted farther from Israel following the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak, with protesters calling to end the peace treaty with Israel
, a position supported by more than half
of the Egyptian population. Now political candidates are catering to the public mood by drawing closer to Iran and Hamas.
Egypt's new Foreign Ministry heads plan to normalize ties with Iran, according to spokeswoman Mena Bakhoum. “All the world has diplomatic ties with Iran with the exception of the United States and Israel,” she said this week. “We look at Iran as a neighbor in the region that we should have normal relations with.”
Iran is currently perceived as neither enemy nor friend, she added.
During anti-regime protests in Egypt, Iran encouraged protesters
and expressed hope that a “new Egypt” would become part of an Islamic revolution in the Middle East. Iran has since called for stronger ties
Gulf regimes have expressed concern
over Cairo's warmer ties with Iran.
Bakhoum also announced that Egypt intends to completely open its border with Gaza. She termed the one-time blockade on Hamas “shameful.”
Egypt previously put in place a blockade of Hamas more stringent that Israel's, as Israel allowed humanitarian goods to enter through its borders. However, over the past two years Egypt has increasingly allowed people and goods to pass through its border with southern Gaza. Israel has relaxed its policy as well, but continues to forbid the import to Gaza of weapons or dual-purpose materials.
Most of the weapons in Gaza are believed to have entered the region via smuggling tunnels under the Egyptian border. Israel has relied on Egypt to fight smuggling and the weapons trade in the Sinai Peninsula.
Egypt showed its new approach to Hamas during talks for Palestinian Authority unity
held with Hamas leaders and leaders of the rival Fatah faction. Hamas representatives were invited to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and met with senior leaders, including interim head of state Mohamed Tantawi.
Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) member and Fatah party member Fuad Kokali put the lie to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' claims he will negotiate with Israel
In an interview with the pro-'Palestinian' Alternative Information Center, Kokali said "it is a must to have this reconciliation because we need the world to recognize a... Palestinian state and without Gaza ... this weakens our position."
"And now they are building a new policy to stop the Palestinian state in September," Kokali said about opposition to unilateral PA efforts outside the Oslo framework that circumvent peace negotiations with Israel, to gain a declaration of statehood by the United Nations in September.
"And they justify their actions that still the region is not ready, the Palestinians are not ready. So they took the position of Israel. And so that means we have to negotiate another 20 years. And I think this will be refused by the Palestinians," Kokali said.
Kokali also admitted Hamas had not agreed to pursue peace with Israel - one of the Quartet's key conditions for the admission of Hamas to the Palestinian Authority if it wishes to retain legitimacy.
"For Hamas there is no other choice so they will go for this ," Kokali said. "But, if we are talking about principles, for example what will be the position with Hamas toward the peace process, or Fatah, this we will continue to negotiate later."
"We will continue to negotiate with Hamas about the peace process, about the peace with Israel, about the resistance, and what kind of resistance we need if peace fails .. this needs more negotiation," Kokali said.
Kokali's admission that Hamas only agreed to unity because it had no choice, and that Hamas' position vis-a-vis Fatah remained ambigous, underscores not only the tenuous nature of the agreement, but also the tenuous permanence any PA-Israel agreement would have.
It also buttresses concerns the inclusion of Hamas in the PA may lead to a Hamas takeover of PA areas in Judea and Samaria.
Perhaps forgetting the period when Hamas terorists threw Fatah terrorists to their deaths out of upper stories of hospitals during Operation Cast Lead , Kokali said "Unity is one of our goals as Palestinians,"
How Israel Should Deal with PA's Intention to Declare a State
by Hillel Fendel
How should Israel deal with the Palestinian Authority’s intention to declare, with United Nations General Assembly support, a state in all of Judea, Samaria and Gaza this coming September?
Three well-known figures – Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, ex-Ambassador to Egypt Tzvi Maz’el, and Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan - answered this question for the weekly B’Sheva magazine. Hevron Jewish Community David Wilder and the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel also issued their opinions.
Ex-Ambassador to Egypt, Sweden and Romania Tzvi Maz’el:
We must deal with this on the diplomatic and informational levels… It appears that the Prime Minister is traveling to France and Great Britain to discuss this topic. In my opinion, he must make it clear to the Americans, Europeans, and others that convening the UN General Assembly will strike a blow at all the agreements we have signed with the , which determined that all problems and issues that arise between us and them… must be solved in direct talks between the sides
When a foreign body such as the UN decides on the establishment of a Palestinian state, it essentially voids the Oslo Agreements of their content. In such a case, Israel will have to act unilaterally to protect its interests, without coordinating with the PA as we do today…
In addition, all the negotiations between Israel and the PA are based on UN resolutions 242 and 338… and on which were based the Oslo Agreements. The moment that the UN recognizes a Palestinian state, it means that 242 and 338 and all agreements based on them are void. This must be stated, in legal and political terms, as clearly as possible.
In addition, the General Assembly can only recommend, but cannot make binding decisions…
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon:
Let us not frighten ourselves with ungrounded theories. The Palestinian move for unilateral recognition is a threat with nothing behind it, and will not serve the Palestinians. A decision by the General Assembly will not change anything on the ground, and certainly not without Israeli cooperation…
We are working on many fronts to present the Israeli position, and many countries are realizing that this unilateral move is not relevant. The PA’s actions and intentions prove again that they are not interested in real peace with Israel– for if they were, they would come to the negotiating table and talk with us…
Those in our country who say that September will be very fateful for Israel, are often the same ones who systematically call on Israel to retreat from its position. Israel has dealt successfully in the past with even bigger challenges than this one, and has flowered and blossomed afterwards. We are in the midst of a ‘political intifada’ on the part of the PA, and we must continue to watch out for our security and interests…
At a time when we see many changes in regional regimes, it is important for the world’s democracies not to allow the establishment of another terrorist state in the Middle East.
Danny Dayan, Chairman of the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria:
The first and primary thing that the government of Israel must do, even without taking the Palestinians’ intentions into account, is to declare clearly our claim to ownership and sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria. While the Palestinians claim this area with lies and distortions, we must present the People of Israel’s unshakeable claim to its homeland and its intention to actualize this right. But if the Arabs talks about national rights and Israel demands only security, the game is lost from the beginning.
Of late, the government of Israel has been broadcasting signs of panic in light of the PA’s intentions. Expressions such as a ‘diplomatic tsunami’ that await us [as Defense Minister Ehud Barak said – ed.], simply increase our enemies’ motivation… causing self-fulfilling prophecies. This vicious cycle must be stopped immediately.
How? By making a 180-degree turn in policy: No more promises for concessions and gestures if they drop their unilateral approach, but rather a clear and direct threat that their unilateral steps will be met by some unilateral steps of our own. But not merely declaratory unilateral steps, like the one they are planning, but some very practical ones – such as our annexation, with all that that entails, of all or parts of Judea and Samaria… We have many tools at our disposal… and we must be less restrained in using them.”
David Wilder, Spokesman for the Hevron Jewish Community (written after the announcement of the Hamas-Fatah agreement):
…I believe the agreement is a reason to break out the wine, set up a band, and celebrate. this time has hit the nail on the head , ‘The agreement will prevent creation of a Palestinian state.’ …
[Netanyahu’s] Bar Ilan 2 speech, to be recited before a full house of Senators and Congressmen in Washington in a few weeks, just about finished, concession after concession, abandonment of more land to our enemies, relinquishment of additional security precautions, a 'Palestinian state' in temporary borders, perhaps even with a taste of Jerusalem for dessert. It was all set. And now - what bombshell can he initiate? Not a one. At least, certainly not in the direction he planned…
The conflict between Hamas and Fatah anything to do with ideology. Both agree that the state of Israel is an insufferable thorn in the collective throats of the Arabs that must be plucked out of existence at the first opportunity. Abu Mazen certainly hasn't changed his life's philosophy, which he expressed while planning the 1974 Ma'alot massacre and funding the 1972 Olympic terror killings in Germany…
Bibi already announced his acceptance of a Palestinian state. But what can he do now? Every rocket now shot into Israel, at Sderot, Ashkelon or Tel Aviv, has not one signature on it, but rather two: Ismail Haniyeh and Abu Mazen . Gilad Shalit is now a captive of Hamas-Fatah. Every attempted terror attack initiated from Gaza is rubber-stamped: Fatah-Hamas…
Just as G-d hardened Pharaoh's heart, so too, today, He is throwing dust into the eyes of our enemies, blinding them, dulling their senses, and leading them down a dead-end road - leading, not to Israel's destruction, rather to their own obliteration. This does not mean, under any circumstances, that we will have an easy time of it. Far from it. Dead end roads aren't necessarily short, and they can be quite bumpy. But the chances of another Arab state on our eastern border, created with Israel's blessings, have hit the lowest level they've been at in years.
It won't be easy, but we will prevent creation of a Palestinian state. G-d is watching over us. G-d is protecting us, even from ourselves. Thank G-d!
Nachi Eyal, Head of the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel:
The murder of an innocent person praying at Joseph's Tomb proves that the world cannot allow a Palestinian state. A people whose policemen are murderers cannot join the family of nations. The Forum expects the government of Israel to have its UN ambassador issue a formal complaint to the United Nations, as the murder of a person at prayer is considred a war crime .