Jerusalem – It’s been a week since the Philadelphi Road fence between Gaza and Egypt collapsed.
A Hamas delegation will go to Egypt today to try to persuade the Egyptians to open the Rafah crossing in return for giving them back control over the border.
The delegation of the Hamas leadership will discuss the new situation created on the border. Hamas made it clear that they will demand of Egypt that it re-open the Rafah crossing, in coordination with Hamas.
Top leaders of Hamas and representatives of Ismail Haniyeh’s government will be in the delegation. In advance of the visit, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that it was important to reopen the Rafah crossing. Hamas said that the crossing agreement signed among Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Egypt after the withdrawal plan was no longer relevant. Mr. Zuhri noted that the Hamas delegation to Cairo would discuss new arrangements for opening the crossing. “The crossing will be open on the basis of Egyptian-Palestinian wishes,” he said.
However, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that the U.S. supports the deployment of forces of the PA loyal to Mahmoud Abbas at the breached Rafah crossing.
“There will be a lot of details that will have to be worked out and I cannot comment on a specific idea, but the concept has our support, and the sides have to see whether this is the way to handle the situation,” she said.
How Mr. Abbas’ forces could be placed there without being attacked by the Hamas army based in Gaza remains an unresolved question that the American government has as yet chosen not to answer.
As the IDF deploys along the southern border in an attempt to prevent terrorists from entering, talks continue between Israeli security officials and Egyptian security officials. The Egyptian officials again promised Israel and the U.S. yesterday that it would act to close the border between them and the Gaza Strip. Israel was encouraged yesterday that there were signs that a new fence is being constructed by the Egyptians on some of their border with the Rafah area.
Egypt To Israel: Help Us Solve The Crisis At Rafah
For the first time since tension erupted on the Gaza/Egyptian border, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit dispatched a conciliatory letter to Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and suggested they cooperate in resolving the crisis at the Rafah border.
Aboul Gheit suggested to Ms. Livni that Israel cooperate with Egypt to solve the problem of the crossings together with the Palestinians.
According to reports received by the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Egyptians propose that the border in Rafah be rebuilt; the European observers return to Rafah; Hamas receive partial control over the crossing together with people from Fatah, who would be given full control; Israel be a partner to the move and again be given security supervision from afar by means of cameras.
The EU has already said it would agree to return the observers, and the Americans also welcome the outline.
However, it is unlikely that Hamas will agree to the idea. Stationing armed Fatah men in Rafah is not acceptable to Hamas.
Egypt, however, remains in complete coordination with Hamas, despite Hamas’ open determination to turn Gaza into a launching pad from where it intends to reclaim “all of Palestine.”
U.S. Could Revise Terms Of ‘Israeli Superiority’
The Middle East NewsLine has provided The Bulletin with a new report written by two senior U.S. military officers that calls for a significant revision of Washington’s policy to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region. The report argued that Arab countries, including Syria, no longer threaten the Jewish state.
“With the anachronistic strategic bifurcation of the Middle East into Israel and a monolithic group of Arab states no longer analytically useful – if it ever was – traditional assumptions regarding QME [qualitative military edge] no longer hold true,” reads the report, issued by the Washington Institute.
Titled “U.S. Foreign Policy and Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge: The Need for a Common Vision,” the report argued that Arab states were prepared to form an alliance against Iran. The authors said their report did not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. government, which seeks to sell $20 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Cooperation Council states.
The authors assert that Israel’s nuclear arsenal has dissipated the strategic significance of U.S. arms sales to Arab allies. They said many Middle East countries “find themselves strategically aligned in part with Israel’s in their desire to contain and deter an increasingly aggressive” Iran.
“The sale of sophisticated conventional weaponry to the Arab states no longer necessarily implies a corresponding reduction in Israel’s QME,” the report, believed to be the first released by U.S. military officers on the topic, said. “Instead, such a sale is a double-edged sword, reducing Israel’s QME to the extent such Arab states continue to represent Israeli adversaries, but at the same time effectively increasing Israel’s QME by improving the military capability of states aligned with it in their desire to deter Iranian threats and aggression.”
The report called on Israel to drop any objection to U.S. arms sales as part of a commitment by Washington to support the maintenance of the qualitative military edge of the Jewish state. The authors said U.S. exports to such countries as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab countries were vital for American foreign policy as well as its defense industry.
“Israel must cease its legitimate but misguided opposition to U.S. government weapons sales to its Arab Gulf allies,” the report said. “Iran poses an existential threat to Israel. The government of Israel needs to acknowledge that the United States and Israel will require well-armed Arab allies in confronting and containing the Iranian regime.”
Instead, the report offered a new definition of QME that examines Arab threat scenarios, prospects of regime change and Israeli military capabilities. The authors argued that QME must consider U.S. and Israeli foreign policy interests as well as regional weapons, manpower, training, leadership and tactical capability.
“The government of Israel favors an expansive definition of QME-related threats, whereas the United States advocates an interpretation based upon realistic short- to mid-term threats,” the report said. “These differing views of QME create disagreements between Israel and the United States on some arms sales to the Middle East.”
The report was released amid an examination by Congress of the proposed U.S. sale of the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) to Saudi Arabia. Many members of the U.S. House of Representatives have expressed concern that JDAM, which converts general purpose bombs into precision-guided munitions, would pose a threat to Israel as well as to U.S. forces in the Middle East.
The report does not mention that Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq remain in a formal state of war with Israel since 1948.
The purpose of that war, as defined by the Arab League, is to exterminate the state of Israel, not to regain territory taken by Israel in the 1948 or 1967 wars. Neither Saudi Arabia, Syria nor Iraq have ever signed any peace treaty with Israel.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008