The Egyptians, over the decade, have acted as the main peacemakers between Fatah and Hamas.
https://www.jpost.com-By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
Egypt is upset with the Palestinian Authority leadership for reportedly undercutting Cairo’s role as a main player in the Palestinian arena, particularly with regards to ending the Fatah-Hamas rivalry, Palestinian sources said on Monday.
The Egyptians are also said to be disturbed by the recent rapprochement between the PA, Qatar and Turkey.
The Egyptians, over the decade, have acted as the main peacemakers between Fatah and Hamas. They have also played a key role in arranging ceasefires between Israel and Hamas.
The Fatah-Hamas dispute reached its peak in 2007, when Hamas overthrew the PA regime and violently seized control of the Gaza Strip.
Since 2009, Egypt has sponsored five reconciliation agreements between Fatah and Hamas, none of which was ever fully implemented.
Earlier this month, leaders of several Palestinian factions, including Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas, held a videoconference meeting to discuss ways of ending the Fatah-Hamas rift and confronting US and Israeli “conspiracies against the Palestinian people,” as well as “normalization between Arab countries and Israel.”
Abbas addressed the virtual meeting from his office in Ramallah, while the leaders of Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other factions delivered speeches from the Palestinian embassy in Beirut.
Last week, Turkey hosted a meeting of Fatah and Hamas leaders, who said they discussed the possibility of holding long overdue elections for the PA presidency and parliament.
Although Jibril Rajoub announced after the meeting that the two sides reached agreement on holding new elections on the basis of proportional representation, Hamas later denied the announcement.
The Fatah-Hamas rapprochement began in early July, when the two rival parties announced that they would cooperate to thwart US President Donald Trump’s vision for Mideast peace, “Peace to Prosperity,” and the since-shelved Israeli plan to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.
“The Egyptians are angry with the Palestinian Authority for a number of reasons,” one source told The Jerusalem Post.
“First, Cairo is annoyed because it feels that it is being kept away from playing the role of sponsors of a Fatah-Hamas reconciliation. Second, Egypt is upset with Abbas for choosing Beirut and Istanbul, and not Cairo, as venues for the Fatah-Hamas dialogue. Third, Egypt is irritated by Abbas’s increased friendliness with Turkey and Qatar. Fourth, The Egyptians’ relations with Hamas are still tense, especially because of its ties with Qatar, Turkey and Islamic terrorist groups operating against the Egyptian security forces in Sinai.”
In 2017, Egypt, along with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE decided to cut diplomatic relations with Qatar, citing its continuing support for “terrorism,” such as the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas is an off-shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is banned by the Egyptian government and considered a terrorist organization.
Several Hamas leaders, including Ismail Haniyeh, are currently based in Doha, Qatar.
Relations between Egypt and Turkey have been strained since the 2013 overthrow of former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who was strongly backed by Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan had accused the Egyptian military of conspiring with Israel to topple the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated regime of Morsi. Erdogan, in addition, had also denounced Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as a tyrant.
After the two-day meeting in Istanbul between Fatah and Hamas, Rajoub flew to Doha and Cairo to brief Qatari and Egyptian officials on the outcome of the reconciliation talks.
On the eve of his arrival in Cairo, several Egyptian media outlets and personalities launched a scathing attack on Hamas, dubbing it a “satanic, murderous and terrorist group.”
Another Palestinian source told the Post that the renewed Egyptian media campaign against Hamas was aimed at sending a message to the Palestinian leadership that Cairo was unhappy with Abbas’s ongoing rapprochement with the Islamist movement.
“The Egyptians continue to see Hamas as a threat to their national security, mainly because of its links to the Muslim Brotherhood and terrorist groups in Sinai,” the source said.
According to the source, last week’s incident, during which the Egyptian Army killed two Palestinian fishermen near the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, was an indication of the mounting tensions between the two sides.
The Egyptians, the source added, are also furious with Hamas for allowing Qatar to solely broker the most recent ceasefire understandings with Israel.
The understandings, which prevented an all-out military confrontation between Israel and Hamas in the aftermath of renewed explosive-laden and arson balloons attacks on Israel, were announced days after an Egyptian security delegation that visited the Gaza Strip to end the tensions failed to achieve its goal.
The Egyptians were offended because the new agreement allowed Qatar to replace Egypt as the major mediator between Israel and Hamas, the source explained.
Rajoub, who has been tasked by the PA leadership with conducting national dialogue with Hamas, said during his visit to Cairo that he was unaware of any Egyptian reservations regarding the Palestinians’ rapprochement with Hamas, Qatar and Turkey.
“No one told us that Egypt is angry because of our dialogue [with Hamas] in Turkey,” Rajoub told Egyptian reporters. “The Egyptians welcomed the dialogue and they are aware of the importance of engaging with all regional parties to secure a Palestinian national formula for reconciliation.”
In an apparent bid to ease tensions between Ramallah and Cairo, Rajoub, during a meeting with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, praised Egypt’s “pivotal and historic role” toward the Palestinian issue.