Second last issue: Middle East Focus
1. Gaza and Hamas
Bird’s Eye: A three parter, as we look at the long term effects on the Middle East of the Gaza-Israel war. We start by looking at Hamas and its allies, who seem to be the big winners. And that’s particularly true in Egypt, where Morsi gained significantly.
The declaration was made in Cairo by the Egyptian foreign minister, in front of Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state. Under the terms of the truce, both sides will hold off from hostilities until further notice. After the truce has held for 24 hours, talks will begin to address Hamas’s demand that Israel’s blockade of Gaza be lifted.
There was no mention of Israel’s requirement that Hamas be prevented from rearming, either immediately or in the future. But the deal was announced in Cairo by Mohammed Kamel Amr, the foreign minister of Egypt, through which any arms would have to travel to reach Gaza, standing alongside Mrs Clinton. The Israelis believe this amounts to a guarantee their security concerns have been accepted.
The deal was reached after 24 hours of frantic diplomacy which saw Mrs Clinton land in Jerusalem for talks with Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister and travel on to Ramallah to meet Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority. She then flew to Cairo to hammer out a deal with Mohammed Morsi, the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt, who has emerged as Hamas’ key international backer. President Barack Obama was careful to thank Mr Morsi as well as Mr Netanyahu for reaching the agreement.
* Hamas finds greater support in a changed Middle East The Washington Post
As the conflict between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip intensifies, Arab governments are throwing their weight behind the territory’s long-isolated Islamist leaders in a reflection of the region’s shifting political dynamics after nearly two years of upheaval.
Long kept at a distance by Arab autocrats wary of Hamas’s hard-line ideology, the group has found a new set of highly influential friends — including the democratically elected governments of Egypt, Tunisia and Turkey, all U.S. allies. Those backers give Hamas stronger standing internationally, and perhaps greater room to maneuver as it faces the second major Israeli operation in Gaza in four years.
* Morsi Emerges as Key Power Broker Juan Cole Informed Comment
Egypt’s President Muhammad Morsi, a member of the same Muslim Brotherhood that gave birth to Palestine’s Hamas movement, has emerged as a key broker in the Gaza crisis. President Obama is said to have called him for the third time in 24 hours on Tuesday!
Morsi sympathizes with the stateless Palestinians, who are being kept without a state and without basic human rights by the right wing Israeli government. But more, he sympathizes with Hamas itself, which the US and Israel have branded a terrorist organization. Because the US has put Hamas on the terrorist list, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cannot talk to the government of Gaza (which seems rather stupid), and Morsi is therefore a key interlocutor