The remains of the Ministry of Interior’s Civilian Affairs office after Israeli bombardments in Gaza City, November 2012. UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan
language Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has employed over the past week, it was Hamas and not Israel that rejected the proposal. This was, to be sure, the direct result of that proposal not meeting any of Hamas’ demands for a ceasefire and, because as one Israeli official put it, “…we discovered we’d made a cease-fire agreement with ourselves.” The dynamics of this turn of events are important and tell us much of how the ground has changed in the region.
We first must ask why Hamas rejected the Egyptian proposal. They have been rather clear about their reasons:
One, Hamas felt, quite correctly, that Egypt had essentially negotiated this deal with Israel, then presented it as a fait accompli to Hamas. In fact, they said they first heard about it through social media.
Two, Hamas has declared that they intend to come out of this round of fighting with some gains. In particular, they want to see the siege that Israel has imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007, the release of all the prisoners who had been re-arrested recently after being freed in exchange for Hamas freeing Gilad Shalit in 2011, and the negotiation of a long term truce, as was agreed in 2012, but never acted upon. The terms of the proposal offered no such relief, or any real change to the status quo.
Three, many among Hamas and other groups believe this proposal was deliberately put forth by Egypt as one Israel would accept and Hamas would reject, in order to legitimize further attacks on Gaza. The way things have unfolded, they may very well be correct.
Elections in the United States, especially elections for President, have been all about choosing the lesser of two evils throughout the country’s history, with only a few exceptions. But the lesser evil in 2016, according to how things stand now, is looking to be a nightmare for the rest of the world, especially if she combines her frighteningly hawkish policies with a Republican Congress. I lament what, at least for now, appears like the necessity to vote for Hillary Rodham Clinton, lest someone even worse win instead. In today’s Souciant.
It’s time to ask some tough questions about US policy regarding Egypt. The most pressing being what that policy is, exactly?
John Kerry in a pre-June meeting with then Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr, and then-President Mohammed Morsi
I agreed with the easily assailable decision by the Obama administration to refrain from labeling the ouster of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi a coup. It still is my belief that doing so might be consistent with US law, but would not be helpful to Egypt. Instead of taking funding away from the military which, since it now directly controls the Egyptian till, would simply divert the lost funds from other places (causing even more distress to an already reeling Egyptian economy) it would be better to use the aid as leverage to push the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) toward an inclusive political process that would include drafting a broadly acceptable constitution and, with all due speed, re-installing a duly elected civilian government. Continue reading →
Once again, Egypt is in turmoil. Some of the characteristics of the current upheaval are similar to that of two years ago, but there are many differences. Still, the immediate outcome is largely the same, with the military taking over and promising to shepherd in a new civilian government, which it says will reflect the “will of the people.” But this process is even more fraught than the last one, while also holding the potential for a much better outcome. I examine this in Souciant this week.
A fundamental plank of any peace plan has to be universal rights and full equality for all, and that is true whether the solution is one state, two states, twelve states or no states in Israel-Palestine. I elaborate at Souciant.