Egypt Lays Bare the Reasoning behind Palestinian Suffering

In another remarkable article by Khaled abu Toameh, perhaps the best Arab journalist now practicing by Western standards, we find Hosni Mubarak, furious at the idea that his country might do a good deed by providing for their Palestinian brethren. The matter-of-fact way in which Mubarak asserts the logic — Israel must suffer no matter what the costs to the Palestinians — reveals just how implacable the hatreds. Mubarak is nowhere near the basic bar for even negotiating peace — love your own more than you hate your foes. Fine insight into the sources of Palestinian suffering. (Hat tip: fp) » Middle East Article
Feb 4, 2008 0:26 | Updated Feb 4, 2008 1:17

Egypt nixes Hamas call for alliance

Under pressure from Egypt, Hamas on Sunday backtracked from its call for economic disengagement from Israel.

Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Photo: AP [file]
“Egypt has made it clear that it does not want to be responsible for providing the Gaza Strip with fuel and electricity,” a senior Hamas official in Gaza City told The Jerusalem Post. “They have informed us that the Gaza Strip must remain Israel’s problem.”

The talk about economic separation from Israel is said to have enraged Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who expressed fear that such a move would increase pressure on him to assume responsibility for the Gaza Strip.

The idea, which has been welcomed by Israel, was first floated by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh over the weekend.

In remarks published by the Hamas-affiliated Falasteen newspaper, Haniyeh said that “Gaza must maintain stronger economic links with Egypt as a way of economic disconnection from Israel.” He said Hamas was seeking to disconnect the Strip’s economy from Israel and receive food, fuel and electricity from Egypt.

“We said during our election campaign in 2006 that we are seeking to move toward an economic disengagement from the Israeli occupation,” Haniyeh said. “Egypt has a greater ability to meet the needs of Gaza.”

And, if they weren’t possessed by their hatred of Israel to the point where they can’t stop bombing it, they might be able to take care of their own people a little better.


Then this Egypt-Gaza border could become the beginning of an economic development that might assist the standard of living of the inhabitants of North Sinai.

Haniyeh’s statements were later echoed by his top aide, Ahmed Youssef, who called on Egypt to assume its responsibilities toward the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip so that they would no longer have to rely on Israel.

However, the two Hamas leaders were forced to retract their statements after being severely reprimanded by top Egyptian government officials, the Hamas official in Gaza City said. The Egyptians are also reported to have threatened to cut off ties with Hamas and ban Hamas representatives from entering its territory.

In other words, when the Egyptians want to get their way, they know how to do it.

The Palestinian Authority in Ramallah has also rejected Hamas’s proposal, warning that such a move would absolve Israel of its responsibilities toward the Palestinians in Gaza. The PA also warned that “bringing Egypt back into the Gaza Strip” would kill the Palestinians’ hope of establishing an independent state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

In other words, the PA and Egypt are on the same page: make the Israelis pay for the Palestinian suffering to which we (other Arab leaders) will contribute no solution unless it makes life impossible for the Israelis (independent state in West Bank and Gaza Strip combined). It looks like Hamas, under some international scrutiny (as a “democratically-elected” government), and increasingly squeezed by an Israel which cannot justify to itself feeding an enemy actively attacking it, seems to be the most pragmatic players at the moment.

But that too may be cognitive egocentrism. The PA and Egypt still use the “secular” discourse of Palestine and the Palestinians, whereas Hamas is a branch of the Muslim brotherhood. Their vision of future borders has no respect for the sovereignty of any of the political “entities” now in existence — Israel, Egypt, Jordan, “Palestine.”

Youssef denied that Hamas wanted to separate the Strip from the West Bank.

“The West Bank and Gaza Strip is one unified geographical unit,” he stressed. Explaining Hamas’s call for economic disengagement from Israel, he added: “What I was talking about was the need to change the situation where the Gaza Strip would continue to depend on economic aid from Israel. “We want to stop Israel from exploiting the economic situation to blackmail the Palestinians.”

“Blackmailing” them into stopping the Qassam attacks. What transparent language! How obscured by our media that downplay the Qassam dimension.

In this sense, Youssef’s pragmatism might run something like this: Look Egypt, we need this electricity and materiel to bomb the Israelis. They’ve finally wised up — what took the idiots so long? — and cut off our supplies. Now we need you to supply us so we can really give it to them. The Egyptians, on the other hand, don’t want a destabilized border; they just want to the Israelis to suffer, like some Promethean chained to a rock, with his liver constantly gnawed upon. And if that means the Gazans suffer… hey, it’s great publicity, no?

Youssef said the idea did not change the fact that the Gaza Strip “is still under Israeli occupation.” But, he added, “All we want is to breathe freedom, find jobs, develop agriculture and promote trade.”

Now that’s interesting. Is that really true? Then Hamas’ best bet would have been to work with the Israelis, who have a far more dynamic economy than the Egyptians. But let’s say his honor precludes so humiliating a cooperation. Still, is he speaking for a significant portion of the Gazan population (who surely exist) that remembers the “good old days” of before the Intifada, when Gaza’s economy, linked to Israel’s under “truce” conditions, is much missed? Or is he manipulating this discourse to get pipelines open so he and his colleagues can pursue war?

In return for abandoning the idea, the Egyptians have promised to consider giving Hamas a central role in managing the Rafah border crossing, sources close to Hamas said.

According to the sources, Egypt promised to raise the issue of Hamas’s participation in controlling the crossing with the US and some EU countries, as well as with Israel.

Uh oh.

“Our Egyptian brothers have promised to reopen the Rafah border crossing soon,” said Taher a-Nunu, spokesman for the Hamas government. “Our delegation to the Cairo talks [last week] reached an agreement with the Egyptians on the need to reopen the border crossing.”

Khalil Abu Lailah, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said his movement was not opposed to the presence of forces loyal to PA President Mahmoud Abbas at the Rafah terminal. But, he continued, Hamas would not accept any deal that allowed Israel to have indirect control there.

“We’re prepared to control the border together with Abbas’s forces,” he said. “The border must be only under Palestinian-Egyptian control.”

Egypt said Sunday it would resist any fresh attempts by the Palestinians to breach its border with the Gaza Strip.

On Sunday, Egyptian border guards closed the last gap in the border with the Gaza Strip, ending the 11-day influx of Palestinians into Egypt. Palestinians who watched the Egyptians reseal the border expressed outrage and vowed to continue their efforts to tear down the barriers.

Now there’s one of the paradigm-setting cases for 21st century political jurisprudence: the border between Egypt and Gaza. Let’s hope the Israelis figure out how to make their demands felt. The consequences of failure will be a necessity to invade later on when the wrong items make it into Gaza.

14 Responses to Egypt Lays Bare the Reasoning behind Palestinian Suffering

  1. […] Augean Stables wrote an interesting post today on Egypt Lays Bare the Reasoning behind Palestinian SufferingHere’s a quick excerpt In another remarkable article by Khaled abu Toameh, perhaps the best Arab journalist now practicing by Western standards, we find Hosni Mubarak, furious at the idea that his country might do a good deed by providing for their Palestinian brethren. The matter-of-fact way in which Mubarak asserts the logic — Israel must suffer no matter what the costs to the Palestinians — reveals just how implacable the hatreds. Mubarak is nowhere near the basic bar for even negotiating peace — love your own mor […]

  2. Sophia says:

    Again, from reading on the ‘net, Egyptians are confused because they have seen firsthand that Egyptian slums and villages are considerably less well-off than “refugee camps,” and nobody is feeding the Egyptians.

    Dealing rationally with the problems confronting Egypt, as well as the Palestinians and many other people throughout the world, is maybe just too daunting a task.

    First we have to deal with desertization, booming populations, enormous species die-off, the fact that the world’s oceans are losing their vitality, the possibility of nuclear war, and of course terrorism, conventional war and widespread economic hardship combined with oppressive government.

    I have spoken to young people here who simply can’t cope with that and rebel by throwing plastic bags of trash into the lake.

    Am I reaching by proposing that a kind of paralysis has set in? Conditions are so bad and improving them seems impossible – so we live in dreams.

  3. Cynic says:

    …now practicing by Western standards,…

    Is that a bit tongue in cheek given the Western MSM’s record to date – NYT, WaPo, LATimes, BBC, Guardian etc?

    precisely. there are two “western standards” — the principles, and the practice. given the current (augean) standard), the phrase is something of an oxymoron.

  4. David M says:

    The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the – Web Reconnaissance for 02/07/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often.

  5. fp says:

    egyptians are not confused at all when it comes to israel. that is the driving force, overriding everything else.

    arabs have been conditioned for generations to blame israel for anything that they do or experience. to expect that all of a sudden they will wake up, particularly now when the west and israelis themselves have bought into this crappola is not just a dream, it’s delusional.


  6. Lynne T says:

    Egypt is between a rock and a hard place of their own making. The last thing the Mubaraks want to do is add another million or so adherents to the Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology to the multitude they currently preside over. Any cooperation with Hamas would only serve to give a higher and more positive profile to the greatest threat to the Mubarak regime’s stranglehold. Suicide missions are for the fools, not the Arab ruling class.

  7. fp says:


    for egypt israel serves as a convenient target for hamas and the MB as well as the rest of population and, thus, a release valve.

    imagine for a moment a palestinian state instead of israel. what will be the next step of the islamic palestinian state, you think, given that such a state will never be viable?

  8. Eliyahu says:

    fp & Lynne, Egypt treats its own Coptic Christian minority pretty miserably. It’s not just the MB, it’s the govt too, which has an ideology fairly close to that of the MB –after all, Nazzer and Sadat came out of an MB milieu. See link on Copts:

  9. fp says:


    i am well aware of the treatment of copts. and i don’t think the govt faces any difficulties in egypt for this treatment. my bet is that it’s very popular. after all, that’s how christians are treated in all arab countries without complaints. (incidentally, I saw once the religious head of the copts in egypt talking about the jews as the killers of god, which even the vatican does not say anymore). maybe he fools himself that if he says this they will be treated better.)

    there is very little about the govt except its self-preservation in power. that was my point: israel serves as a release valve for. the minute israel is no longer there the target will be the govt and it won’t be able to withstand the pressure anymore.

    that’s why arab states want neither hamas nor israel eliminated. trying to go against either would cause it to become the target for elimination.

  10. Eliyahu says:

    of course, fp, since the Muslim Brotherhood is the major opposition party/movement in Egypt, then putting the Copts in their proper Islamic place must be very popular there. But what’s scary is that certain lovesick folk in Washington and its satellite universities and institutes and centers and “think-tanks” have gone all dewy eyed and gooey over the Muslim Brotherhood as a supposed “democratic” movement. The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs put out a paper on this fatuousness. You can probably find it on their website.

  11. fp says:

    i am well asware of the delusion about the brotherhood.
    there are plenty of people in the west who have convinced themselves that support of the current arab regimes is a bad ideahh it and that if the west will switch its support to the brotherhood, the latter will preserve good relations with the west when they come to power. this is, of course, reinforced by taqiya and useful idiots.

    the problem is that while I agree about the current regimes, there is no real liberal-democratic constitency to the handful of activists in arab countries. if current regimes fall the most likely replacement is the islamist/jihadist option and the likelihood of their giving up islamic supermacism is nil. indeed, this will whet their appetite, not sate it.

  12. fp says:

    Here’s more on MB:

    Egypt and the Muslim Brotherhood

    The Muslim Brotherhood’s Infiltration of the West

  13. Alex says:

    What do you think of this ? Shoher is arguably the most right Israeli today, but he argues Israel should talk to Hamas as Egypt will not maintain the blockade of Gaza.

  14. Mohammad says:

    Israel is an illegal state that has considerably harmed the Western and Muslim world with its extremist ideology and militant actions.

    I believe that in the name of world peace Israel must be disarmed and dissolved as a political entity, and a reparation program created for Palestinians to compensate for decades of oppression and genocide inflicted by Israel.


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