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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Egypt shelves Hamas - Fatah reconciliation

This is from a Haaretz analysis which claims that both Egypt and Jordan are coordinating their moves with Israel to an unprecedented extent.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who continues to serve as a de facto Foreign Minister, returned Wednesday from a short visit to Sharm el-Sheikh where he met Egypt's Hosni Mubarak. This is his second diplomatic excursion in the region in less than a week, after his trip to Turkey where he was partially successful in calming the animosity between Ankara and Jerusalem.

In line with an Egyptian request Barak made do with a laconic statement that talks were "productive and extensive. However, where the media is not watching, Israel and Egypt are finding themselves increasingly partners in common and growing interests.

Senior sources in the defense establishment say that the Egyptians are even willing to agree, albeit belatedly, with the Israeli-American conclusion that nothing good will result from Cairo's effort to mediate between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. The Obama administration fears that intra-Palestinian reconciliation would only bolster Hamas at the expense of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Prime Minister, Salam Fayyad.

Palestinian unity has been understood to mean that a joint government would involve Hamas and that would also present the United States with a constitutional problem.

Legislation passed in Congress would prevent the administration from continuing to give aid to the Abbas-Fayyad government the minute it agrees to include Hamas as a partner. Cairo will not admit it publicly but it appears that its reconciliation initiative is dead.

An Egyptian source says that the mediation efforts stopped because "conditions in the area do not permit it." The source said that the Hamas rejection of an Egyptian compromise proposal, in part because of pressure from Iran and Syria, is preventing progress toward reconciliation.


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