Egypt Torn Between Allies in Gaza and Treaty With Israel

Egyptian PM to Visit Besieged Strip

by Jason Ditz, November 15, 2012

Traditionally, when Israel launches a protracted military operation against the Gaza Strip, Egyptian officials have worked behind the scenes to negotiate ceasefires as quickly as possible, but have avoiding making any public comments critical of Israel’s war. Since the revolution, things have changed.

With the advent of elections in Egypt, popular outrage at Israeli offensives is now a political issue as well. While getting back to a tense ceasefire of some sort seems to be job one, Egypt’s leadership is struggling to balance their interests in improving their relationship with Gaza with keeping the Israeli treaty intact.

So far this has meant far more public criticism of Israeli aggression, and the recalling of the Egyptian ambassador, while pushing for UN Security Council and Arab League action to help stop the fighting.

Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Kandil is also taking the unheard of step of planning a Friday visit to the Gaza Strip itself, planning to meet with Hamas officials at the same time as Israel is trying to assassinate them. Israel’s military refused to comment on the visit, but it will presumably inconvenience the war at least for a little while.

Egypt is even courting the US on trying to stop the fighting, though this seems to have fallen on deaf ears, as the US responded by saying that Hamas was 100% to blame for the war and if Egypt wanted it to stop they should convince Hamas to stop retaliating when their leaders get assassinated.

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