Egypt to Offer Fatah, Hamas Nothing, But Table of Talks

Politics Materials 1 November 2008 13:19 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan, Baku, 1 November / Trend corr. U.Sadikhova / Egypt's permanent mediation in negotiations between the Palestinian ruling party Fatah and opposition Hamas does not create changes in settlement of their contradictions. However, Palestinians prefer mediation of the Arabian countries to intervention of the West into interior affair of the autonomy.

"Egypt's mediation in the negotiations prevents the United States and United Kingdom from subordinating interior policy of Palestine to their own interests," Hisham Ahmed, Professor of Political Sciences at the Birzeit University told Trend from the West Bank of the Palestinian Autonomy.

New negotiations between Fatah and Hamas will take place in Cairo on 9 November. Egypt re-undertook role of mediator in the negotiations amongst more than 20 Arabian countries, Fahmi Zaarir, the press secretary of Fatah said, the Palestinian MAAN News agency reported.

It is not the first time that official Cairo mediates in these negotiations.

However, attempts of the Egyptian government to assist in establishment of government of Palestine with the united territory have failed.

After victory of the Islamic resistance movement Hamas in the parliamentary elections in 2006, Palestine was divided into two control zones: Fatah exercises control over the West Bank and Hamas - Gaza Strip and borders with Egypt.

Borders of Egypt with Gaza Strip are one of important issues of discussions between Cairo and Hamas. To maintain security at borders, Egypt repeatedly closed Rafah border check point with Gaza. Thanks to this point, residents of Gaza Strip have opportunity to supply themselves with necessary food and medicine, taking into consideration of the Israeli blockade of entire Palestine.

The Arabian members of the League of Arab States (LAS) were dissatisfied with Hamas' non-recognition of the central government of the autonomy. The LAS General Secretariat blamed the movement of unwillingness to cooperate with Fatah in the Palestinian-Israeli negotiations at the last meeting in October. Differences of both Palestinian parties put off prospect of establishment of the united state and truce with Israel.

The western countries, especially, the United Kingdom and United States play an important role in negotiations between the Palestinian Autonomy and Israel. Therefore, negotiations reached a deadlock, said Ahmad, a Palestinian political scientist. However, they could not interfere into interior affairs of Palestine because of permanent anti-western resistance by Hamas. Permanent control over borders of Gaza Strip and support of people of the region assist the movement in supervising over the reins of government in Gaza.

However, Egypt pursues own interest, as well. There is supposition that Cairo can use its confidential relations with Hamas to control Gaza Strip again in future, Ahmad added.

Not only Cairo, but also Saudi Arabia, Syria and Jordan display interest in results of negotiations between Fatah and Hamas. However, only Egypt differs from these countries with its impartiality.

According to Hasan Asfur, former head of the Palestinian Committee for Negotiations, Egypt's interest to supervise over Gaza will assist in general stability at borders of Palestine with other countries.

"Borders are always included in the national interest of any country. If Egypt helps create unified and open borders with restless neighbor such as Hamas, Fatah will agree to open borders of Gaza and West Bank," Asfur said to Trend by telephone from Cairo.

Though U.S. does not interfere with this process openly, without Washington's support, Egypt could hardly have acted as a mediator. The major reason is that U.S. knows that Hamas will never allow it to meddle with the domestic problems of autonomy, therefore, handed over this role to Cairo.

In wake of establishing diplomatic relations with Egypt and Israel in 1978, with the help of the U.S. mediation Cairo abandoned resistance policy towards West pursued by Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

However, Cairo still continues efforts to improve situation in the Arab region. This can become possible with the economic help and support for Cairo's foreign policy by U.S., said Anthony Sullivan, professor on Near East at the Michigan University of the United States.

"Claims of Hamas for supremacy in Palestine, resistance policy of Hezbollah, anti-West spirit of Syria as well aggravate economy of the region,' expert said.

Egypt is an important economic partner of both West and other Arab states because of favorable geographic location and well-developed infrastructure. However, regions bordering with Palestine are often closed due to instability.

Hamas has more chances to achieve progress in talks with Israel rather than Fatah as their policy is more accurate and concrete.

Therefore, Egypt probably prefers relations with Islamic movement rather than Palestinian Autonomy.

The Palestinian parties are less likely to unite and create a unified government. Even, Egypt's impartial approach in solving Palestine's internal dispute does not yield results. In spite of conditional agreements, the parties continue to struggle. The Autonomy will hold next presidential election in January and experts say the conflict between the sides will only deepen. An independent Arab expert Mohammad Yaghi said it is vital to start large Palestinian dialogue involving Fatah and Hamas and reach compromise. Therefore, Egypt's mediation will only delay solution of this conflict. Hamas will not give up its principles to rule entire Palestine so easily which Fatah fears more than Israeli aggression.

The Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, founded by the Sheik Ahmad Yasin in 1987, still remains large resistance movement of Palestine. If earlier Hamas leaders maintained neutral relations with former Fatah leader Yasser Arafat, they refused to cooperate with central government after Arafat's death and Mahoud Abbas' election as president in 2005 accusing them to be pro-western and pro-Israeli.

The correspondent can be contacted at : [email protected]