Will Egypt’s Warming Ties with Israel Leave Palestinians out in the Cold?

Will Egypt's Warming Ties with Israel Leave Palestinians out in the Cold?
EDITOR’S CHOICE | 12.08.2016

Will Egypt’s Warming Ties with Israel Leave Palestinians out in the Cold?

Adnan Abu Amer is dean of the Faculty of Arts and head of the Press and Information Section at Al Ummah University Open Education, as well as a lecturer there in the history of the Palestinian issue, national security, political science and Islamic civilization. He holds a doctorate in political history from Damascus University and has published a number of books on issues related to the contemporary history of the Palestinian cause and the Arab-Israeli conflict. 

Relations between the Palestinian Authority and Egypt are strained as political differences continue. The PA is less than enthusiastic about Egypt’s peace initiative with Israel and also rejects Cairo’s support for dismissed Fatah leader Mohammed Dahlan.

The chill in Palestinian-Egyptian relations was evident following the PA’s late-July request that Egypt convene an Arab League summit in Cairo to discuss the issue of Israeli settlements and to set a date to present the PA’s case to the United Nations Security Council. Egypt ultimately rejected the request without explanation and the summit was never held.

In a July 28 article for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, former Israeli intelligence officer Yoni Ben-Menachem predicted that relations between the PA and Egypt will only get worse, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejects the Egyptian peace initiative while Cairo paves the way to have Dahlan succeed Abbas.

Relations between Abbas and Dahlan were cut when Dahlan was dismissed as a Fatah leader in May 2011 because of pressure from Abbas. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who favors Dahlan, pressured Abbas in November 2015 to reconcile with Dahlan in a bid to return Dahlan to the Palestinian scene at the expense of Abbas.

Ben-Menachem also wrote that the peace initiative introduced by Sisi in May undermines Abbas’ efforts to hold Israel accountable in international venues and bolster the global boycott against it. The Egyptian initiative calls for both Palestinians and Israelis to resume negotiations without preconditions, which would hinder Abbas’ efforts to push the UN and the Security Council to issue resolutions against Israel.

Yet the secretary-general of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, Amin Makboul, told Al-Monitor, “Relations between Palestine and Egypt are strong and solid. President Abbas’ latest visit to Cairo on May 9 was a success, as discussions held with Sisi dealt with all common interests regarding the Palestinian cause. There is no conflict between the Egyptian and French initiatives, with Egypt endorsing the international conference [the French initiative calls for]. Also, talk about Egyptian support for Dahlan is but unfounded hearsay.”

So far no date has been set for an international peace conference between Palestinians and Israelis. Palestinians favor the idea, while Israelis prefer a conference that Arab and regional states attend without directly participating in.

Makboul’s statement may be diplomatic in nature and aim to prevent further deterioration of Ramallah’s relationship with Cairo. But the latest communiqué, issued Aug. 7 by the PLO Executive Committee, was more explicit when it proclaimed its endorsement of the French initiative without any mention of the Egyptian one — a clear indication that Palestinians do not back the latter. The French initiative calls for an international peace conference and refers the Palestinian cause back to the UN, which Israel rejects.

“It is clear that the differences between the Palestinian and Egyptian sides are due to their respective incongruent interests,” Abdel Sattar Qassem, a political science professor at An-Najah University in Nablus, told Al-Monitor. “Egypt backs Dahlan because it needs financial support from the United Arab Emirates in light of [Egypt’s] financial crisis, while the UAE considers Dahlan to be one of its proteges in the region. This angers [Abbas].”

It should be noted that there are strong ties between the UAE and Dahlan, who found refuge there in 2011 after his dismissal from Fatah. As the security adviser of the UAE’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Dahlan is considered an active player in determining internal and external security policies for the UAE. Dahlan was able to establish security relations on the regional and international levels when he was head of Palestinian Preventive Security intelligence between 1994 and 2000, and as the Palestinian national security adviser.

Qassem said, “The Palestinian stance on the French initiative is more enthusiastic, as it offers the Palestinians more than its Egyptian counterpart. The French are restoring the Palestinian cause to its international roots, while Egypt, through its initiative, is searching to create a role for itself at the expense of the Palestinians.

“This chilled state of affairs between Egypt and the PA also coincided with a steady rapprochement between Cairo and Tel Aviv, as Sisi is looking to protect his regime. And one of the tools available in the region toward that end is Israel, which enjoys security potential and has tight political relations with some world powers. [This rapprochement] will eventually lead to the waning of Egypt’s role and status among Palestinians.”

The warming relations between Egypt and Israel have been marked by the return of Egypt’s ambassador to Tel Aviv early this year, followed by Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s visit to Israel in July. Meanwhile, security and military cooperation between both countries has been increasing to fight jihadist Islamic groups in Sinai, and both countries share hostility against Hamas.

Also worthy of note are the July 29 statements made by an anonymous Fatah official to New Khalij about Arab mediation efforts, the latest of which took place in Jordan, aimed at improving relations between Abbas and Sisi. The efforts ultimately failed.

Although there is no accurate information on the mediation that took place in Jordan, British reporter David Hearst said in a July 27 report on Middle East Eye that the UAE, Egypt and Jordan are planning for the post-Abbas period and paving the way for Dahlan to replace Abbas.

While the relationship between Egypt and the PA is characterized by a lack of empathy, the relationship between Cairo and Hamas remains tense. On July 6, Egypt canceled the visit by a Hamas leadership delegation scheduled for early July, reportedly because Cairo was dissatisfied with Hamas’ response to Egyptian concerns about the deteriorating security situation in Sinai. Hamas had refused to hand over wanted Egyptian citizens Egypt says are in Gaza and active in armed organizations in Sinai. Hamas also refused to form a joint security commission with Cairo to fight terrorism in Sinai.

Although Hamas deployed additional troops in April along the border with Egypt to prevent smuggling between Gaza and Sinai, Egyptian intelligence services found those measures lacking.

Yahya Moussa, Hamas leader and chairman of the Oversight Committee of the Palestinian Legislative Council, told Al-Monitor, “Any tension in the relations of Palestinians with any other party, in particular Egypt, serves Israeli interests. Israel is the ultimate beneficiary, as it will take advantage of the Palestinians’ tense relations with their Arab neighbors to escalate against them in the absence of Arab support.”

Moussa added, “Meanwhile, the PA fails to exploit against Israel any agreement between [the PA] and Egypt. In contrast, the improving relations between Egypt and Israel indicate weakness and confusion on the part of Egypt with regard to regional sovereign issues, for they render Egypt ineffectual despite its relations with Israel growing stronger.”

Egyptians and Palestinians are perhaps seeking to maintain the appearance of good relations but unable to hide their differences concerning Israel, the issue of PA presidential succession and the future of relations with the Gaza Strip. All these issues are enough to keep matters tense between them, while maintaining a modicum of contact and preventing matters from deteriorating to complete estrangement.

al-monitor.com

7 Responses

  1. And even more amusing – THIS ARTICLE BLAMES SISI AND A “WARMING TO EGYPT” – God you all need to put a sock in it – (your mouths and views) and stop treating the global population of Activists as if they are completely and utterly stupid .

  2. And Palestinians favour the French International Conference but take no care whatsoever to notice the Terrorist Attacks on France that are organised, Incited and spawned from Terror TV, hosted on a Muslim Brotherhood USA Satellite, from the USA and UK Puppet Muslim Brotherhood Govt in Tripoli, to punish France for even suggesting such a thing. And yet Hamas will not give to Egypt the Terrorists who have been previously in and out of Gaza, supporting all of this – and then you say, that Palestinians support the French Initiative. Laugh OUT BLOODY LOUD.

    • Real Palestinians support resistance and liberation of Palestine not only from River to see but liberation of the So-called “Jordan”
      Jordan is nothing but a river in Palestine. Moreover, Palestine is nothing but Southern Syria (Levant)

  3. I think UAE is right, there is a 100% LACK of “Intelligence” in both the PA and Hamas. With Terrorist Views predominant with Hamas, complete disregard for the Security of neighbouring Countries which they should be courting as Allies, not destroying (Are they Corrupt and being paid by Zionists as many think?) and a Corrupt Leader of the PA who puts any chance or improving the Palestinian’s Situation (such as having an “Intelligence Services”) into meltdown, as long as Abbas stays in Leadership that’s all he cares about. And it suits Israel and it suits the Zionists. Political Science is one thing, and analysis of each meeting and rumour, but unless you have an “Intelligence Services” contribution to analysis, it’s all pretty meaningless, and Activists are having to be the eyes and ears for that service for the Palestinians to correctly see what is going on. It suits the Zionists for Hamas to be behaving much as LET does in Pakistan. And their behaviour has become so similar in fact, with alliances to entities such as Morsi who has now been proven to be instrumental in the mess in Libya (Wikileaks) and on the side OF the Zionists as they are, backing those lead by Bernard Levy and the Israeli Intelligence Services – with UK and USA backing of the Muslim Brotherhood Puppet GNA in Tripoli, who have tortured to death more than 20,000 innocent Libyans who only crime was they want to VOTE in the Govt., and not have one put there by the Zionists as a Puppet.

    Especially not now, after the atrocities in Libya – which frankly make the plight of Palestinians both in and outside of Gaza look like a holiday camp.

  4. Warming ties with Israel? One what basis? Yet again, a bird’s eye’s views from just one perspective, which is : Individuals have noticed some contact between Egypt and Israel – and that is categorised as “Warming Ties”. Several things have changed and several strategic points have been missed here, and Bi Lateral Agreements, Geo Polictical Chess Moves by Israel and other nations are being completely missed. I can give you a few points to note and perhaps you, the Author, would like to comment regarding how you would handle each of these situations if you were Egypt’s Leader:

    1) The Renaissance Dam Project in Ethiopia.

    If you had been following that over the past year or 2 you would know that the tables have finally turned due to several meetings between Israel and Egypt. The Dan in being constructed by Israel to irrigate KSA Agricultural Projects in Ethiopia as well as harness water and divert it to Central Africa. Up until very recently the “Backfill” of the newly constructed Dam – plus the allocation of percentage of water – would have left the Nile Waters so severely depleted, it would have caused a Famine in Sudan, and in Egypt and irreversibly destroyed the flow of the Nile, the diminished water supply to the Nile would have been permanent in fact.

    Egypt has been in negotiations – with several Authorities, and has had to capitulate on some ‘as I see it “Tempory Matters” ‘ to get this miserable attempt at Black Mail and Extortion put right. It now has been put right, with 90% of the waters now flowing down the Nile through Sudan and Egypt while the Dam backfills, and enough percentage of waters diverted down the Nile for the Future. Whereas last year the situation was causing me for one, levels of shock and horror. Perhaps these authors of these articles need to take a broader perspective and take in larger areas of the Globe when doing their Analysis.

    2) Egypt has been assigned to try and broker a Peace Deal for Israel and Palestine – by the UN – so clearly that requires some dialogue.

    3) Daesh has been listed by the Security Council as of Autumn last year as “Has to be dealt with” – whereas previously due to blocking of the Vote at the UN by UK and USA etc., that did not happen. So Israel was inciting Daesh on social media – as was the UK and USA – and in mainstream media – as many of us saw, as a useful tool for one thing and another. Including:

    i) Making Israel look good
    ii) Drawing Daesh into the Sinai – to Israel’s benefit
    iii) Drawing Daesh into Gaza – to Israel’s benefit
    iv) Where they killed so many Egyptian Military that due to combination of all allies on the border into being Infiltrated by Daesh – resulted in the closure and of the border and the destruction of the tunnels. And anyone monitoring Social Media could see that was going on, and that it was all about getting Daesh into Gaza to give Tel Aviv and Washington the excuse to finish Gaza totally.
    v) Due to Daesh – the total destruction of the Egyptian Tourist Trade – weakening a Country that was firstly NOT on the side of the Zionists (and you only have to look at Libya to see that)….and a difficulty on meeting the cost of the Mistral Ships sold to them by France at Russia’s suggestion. The Post Sarkozy Regime in France has wanted to recognise Palestine, and suffered as a consequence, and has suffered due to Terrorist Attacks incited from Libya where Zionist Misrati Terror TV hosted on a USA Satellite has incited the Terror with a pack of lies plus the sanctioning of all other Media. The fact that this Author is unaware is not surprising, he is unaware about the Renaissance Damn and a lot of other matters. Now that Tel Aviv can no longer incite Daesh and Recruit the online, as a tool to serve their ends, by using Media to drive Deash where they wanted them, as well as quite a few double agents (with help of UK Forces), Israel is courting Egypt in false friendship.
    vi) Libya. Egypt cannot be accused of warming to Israel at all, when the Battlemap of Libya is fully understood. And if the author has no idea about that, then here is a clue : “Benghazi”.

    So your article is full of oxymorons, very naive and as usual, far too black and white based on rumours (biased toward Syria Opposition perhaps because Egypt has fought them from Day ONE in Libya HQ)……and of course Turkey has switched sides and is fully relieved to be back in the fold of all Muslim Countries – except Saudi. Whose highest level Sheiks were slaughtering their best camels as sacrifices for the Turkey Coup to be successful, and posting it on Youtube.

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