Egypt is working hard to ensure that the newly set ceasefire between Israel and Hamas will not be as fragile as the previous similar deals. The best strategy to cement the ceasefire is to figure out a working solution for the entire Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A solution that is built on the tough ground of prioritizing the security needs of innocent civilians, on both fronts, over the selfish goals of their political leaders. The most important step to be taken in this direction is to put an end to the intra-conflicts between the Palestinian political factions, and thus unify their vision of peace with Israel.
After eleven days of a brutal missile war between Israel and Hamas, in mid-May, Egypt single-handedly managed to broker a ceasefire deal that spared thousands of innocent lives. This was, allegedly, the most destructive battle between the Israelis and the Palestinians. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, more than 250 Palestinians have been killed, at least 1900 injured, and more than 2000 families displaced. On the other side, the Israeli Emergency Response Service announced that 12 Israelis were killed.
The ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is mutual and is not tied to any conditions or guarantees. However, the Egyptian Intelligence Bureau sent two separate security delegations; one to Tel Aviv and one to Gaza, to monitor the conflicting parties’ commitment. Meanwhile, the Egyptian President pledged to continue to actively work on a sustainable peace resolution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
On May 18th, following a trilateral summit between the Egyptian, Jordanian, and French leaders, in Paris, Egyptian President El-Sisi announced allocating 500 million dollars for reconstructing Gaza. On June 3rd, a huge parade of Egyptian civilian engineers and equipment entered Gaza to start reconstructing the infrastructure and more than 12 thousand homes that were damaged during the recent fight. The Egyptian construction delegation received by warm welcome from Hamas leaders, as well as from the citizens of Gaza, who gathered in large numbers to wave the Egyptian flag and chant slogans for Egypt.
Simultaneously, the Egyptian state dared to extend its security and diplomatic arms into the pandora box of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in search of means to revive peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians. On May 30th, the Israeli Foreign Minister visited Cairo, upon an invitation from his Egyptian counterpart to discuss a ceasefire with Hamas and potential perspectives for peace. The last time an Israeli foreign minister visited Cairo, was in 2008. The next day, On May 31st, the Egyptian Chief of Intelligence paid a rare visit to Hamas in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. The last time an Egyptian high-profile official visited Gaza was in the early 2000s.
The purpose of the Egyptian Chief of Intelligence's visit to Gaza and the West Bank was not limited to discussing the ceasefire and the reconstruction of Gaza. However, the Egyptian Chief of Intelligence was carrying a message from President El-Sisi to all Palestinian political factions to work together on ending their intra-conflicts, as a first step to negotiating an Israeli-Palestinian peace. In mid-June, a series of talks between various political Palestinian factions is scheduled to start, in Cairo, under the supervision of respective Egyptian authorities. On June 8th, Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh had already arrived in Cairo, to meet with the Egyptian Intelligence officials, before the beginning of the Palestinian factions’ meetings.
For more than 14 years, Egypt has been trying to reconcile between Hamas and Fatah, the top political Palestinian rivals in Gaza and the West Bank. The latest round of talks between Hamas Fatah, and other political factions took place in February of this year, in preparation for the Palestinian elections, which got canceled two months later. The last Palestinian general elections took place in 2006. Since then, the conflict of interests between the leading Palestinian politicians blocked the possibility of holding a new round of elections. The current political status quo is the real reason for most of the suffering of the Palestinian people, but it works perfectly for the selfish interests of the Palestinian leaders.
Whether Egypt may succeed in the almost impossible mission to reconcile between Fatah and Hamas remains an open question with no definitive answer. That is a mission more crucial and more complicated than bringing the Israelis and Palestinians to the negotiation table, once again.
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