Egypt and Morsi Play Major Role in Gaza CeasefireIn Blog
Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy has won praise for his government’s effort to bring about a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, a delicate balancing act for the country’s nation’s first freely elected leader.
Egypt has been the go-between in many previous Israeli-Palestinian disputes. But while longtime Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak was hostile to Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist movement that rules Gaza, Morsy’s Muslim Brotherhood is the group’s political cousin. And although Morsy leads a population with deep historical sympathy for the Palestinians, he has pledged to maintain Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel.
Unlike former President Hosni Mubarak, who deemed Hamas an enemy, the Muslim Brotherhood government sees the movement as its own political progeny and is therefore not shackled by a need to prevent Hamas making political gains from a truce. On the contrary, while Egypt seeks the Gaza ceasefire that ends Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli air strikes on the territory, Cairo’s mediation also offers Hamas a path out of the blockade that has choked off Gaza’s economy for the past five years. Even Israeli leaders have praised the response from Cairo, notwithstanding Egypt’s unprecedented public acts of solidarity with Hamas.
Turkey is one of the few Muslim countries to have had good relations with Israel, but they collapsed after a deadly Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound aid ship in 2010. Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu joined an Arab League delegation on Tuesday to the Gaza Strip in, “solidarity with the Palestinian nation’s suffering” in the wake of Operation Pillar of Defense.
The “Anatolia” news agency reported that the senior Turkish diplomat broke out in tears after seeing bodies and the wounded at Gaza’s al-Shifa Hospital. Davutoglu visited the hospital with Secretary General of the Arab League, Nabil Elaraby who led the delegation of Arab foreign ministers. Also joining him was Bilal Erdogan, son of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Medical sources in the Strip reported that the death count stands at 138 people, of which 59 are civilians.
Tunisian Foreign Minister Rafik Abdesslem visited the Gaza Strip on Saturday and denounced Israeli attacks on the Palestinian enclave as unacceptable and against international law.
“Israel should understand that many things have changed and that lots of water has run in the Arab river,” Abdesslem said as he surveyed the office of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh reduced to rubble in an overnight air strike. “(Israel) should realize it no longer has a free hand. It does not have total immunity and is not above international law.”