Egypt is the key player in any peace deal


The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY ANSHEL PFEFFER

THE GAZA con­flict is play­ing out against a much wider re­gional power-play that could be chang­ing the bal­ance in the Mid­dle East.

A strug­gle is go­ing on for in­flu­ence be­tween Egypt, aligned with Saudi Ara­bia and most of the other Gulf States, and, on the other side, Qatar and Turkey.

The main dif­fer­ence be­tween the pre­vi­ous round of fight­ing 20 months ago and this con­flict is that the Egyp­tian pres­i­dent is now Ab­del Fat­tah al-Sisi, un­til re­cently the com­man­der of the army who wrested power from Pres­i­dent Mo­hammed Morsi of the Mus­lim Brother­hood.

Mr Morsi, now await­ing trial, was much bet­ter po­si­tioned to ne­go­ti­ate with Ha­mas, a move­ment in­spired by the Brother­hood, and suc­ceeded in bro­ker­ing a cease­fire within six days. The cur­rent regime has lam­basted Ha­mas for work­ing with the Brother­hood to un­der­mine Egypt. But de­spite the en­mity, Egypt is still the only vi­able ne­go­tia­tor. It’s pro­posal, which was re­jected by Ha­mas last week, re­mains an im­me­di­ate cease­fire and a re­turn to the agree­ment achieved in Novem­ber 2012 and only then hold­ing in­di­rect talks be­tween Ha­mas and Is­rael to try and work out new ways to open up the Gaza Strip.

Ha­mas, des­per­ate to show some achievements to the Pales­tinian pub­lic, is de­mand­ing im­me­di­ate con­ces­sions from Is­rael and us­ing the chan­nels of its re­main­ing sup­port­ers in the re­gion, Qatar and Turkey.

Is­rael and Egypt are re­ject­ing any in­volve­ment by these two na­tions and have made it clear to the United States, which was in favour of try­ing the Qatari chan­nel, that they will not agree to this un­der any cir­cum­stances.

Cairo sees Qatar as one of it main en­e­mies, ac­cus­ing the Emir of us­ing his Doha-based Al Jazeera news chan­nel to broad­cast pro-Brother­hood pro­pa­ganda. Is­rael’s For­eign Min­is­ter Avig­dor Lieber­man also ac­cused Qatar of sup­port­ing Ha­mas fi­nan­cially. Turkey has also dis­qual­i­fied it­self in Is­rael’s eyes due to the an­tisemitic re­marks made by Prime Min­is­ter Rec­cep Tayip Er­do­gan.

Cairo re­mains the only ad­dress for a pos­si­ble cease­fire, but it is hard to see how it

will be achieved.

Mr Kerry meets Sec­re­tary­Gen­eral of the Arab League, Na­bil Elaraby dur­ing cease­fire talks

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