Egyptian-brokered talks between rival Palestinian factions are being held under the direct auspices of Egyptian President el-Sisi (the meeting was proposed and supported by President Trump.)
He [el-Sisi] wants a deal to permanently halt the movement of militants between Gaza and Sinai, where an Islamic State affiliate has damaged Egypt’s tourist industry as well as the broader recovery El-Sisi wants to portray. Ending the rift in Palestinian ranks could also ease Gaza’s suffering and bolster their hand in future peace talks with Israel. Put together, they point to an assertive Egypt looking to reclaim its role as a regional powerhouse.
There’s the “sense of wanting to re-establish Egyptian leadership and foreign policy activism — putting Egypt back in its rightful place,” said Michael Wahid Hanna, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation in Washington. Bloomberg
Previous attempts at reconciliation between the two sides were unveiled with fanfare and declarations of unity, only to quickly end.
Pressure on Hamas
“The Egyptians have certainly put a lot of pressure on Hamas, but they’re under no illusions about the possibility of this agreement’s early demise,” Eran Lerman, a lecturer at Shalem College in Jerusalem and a former member of Israel’s National Security Council, said. Bloomberg
In June, Egpyt put pressure on Hamas to distance itself from Iran. Egypt also demanded that Hamas not express support for Qatar.
Relations between Iran and Hamas cooled due to differences over the conflict in Syria. In 2017, Iran agreed in principle to renew its funding for the Hamas terror group, stated the Times of Israel.
International largesse from Europe, American, NGOs… goes to the Palestinian Authority. It is supposed to use the money for all the Palestinians including those in Gaza, which it uses it uses to assert authority in Gaza.
Beginning in April and during the summer the PA stopped paying the Gaza utility bills to Israel. The PA also cut the pay by 30 percent of Gaza government officials and workers who do not work but have remained on the payroll.
Fatah then sent a stark message to Hamas: Reconcile and allow the Palestinian Authority to assume control in Gaza, or manage alone.
“Part of this is Abbas showing he is in control and he is the boss,” said Mahdi Abdul Hadi, director of the Palestinian Academic Society for the Study of International Affairs, an independent research institute in East Jerusalem. “The message to Hamas is: If you want to govern it, take it.” NYTimes
Hamas holds few cards. Egypt keeps the Rafah border crossing in Gaza mostly closed. Qatar reduced funding to Hamas and Iran has only discussed the renewal of funding.
Hopes for the agreement, signed under the watchful eye of Egyptian intelligence, were tempered by the knowledge that many previous Palestinian initiatives have failed. Yet there is optimism that this time may be different, partly because the stakes are so much higher.
Hamas, which controls Gaza and has fought Israel three times, said it was ready to cede control of Gaza’s borders and allow the rival Palestinian Authority to effectively take over the day-to-day running of the territory.