Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ primary advantage over his Hamas rivals does not come from his limit support among the Palestinian population, but rather from his limited international ties. The possibility of losing that has him scrambling to Cairo this weekend for “urgent” talks with the military junta there, presumably aimed at trying to talk their leadership out of restoring ties with Hamas.
After Egypt’s 2013 summer coup, the junta quickly severed all ties with Hamas, who had been seen as inappropriately friendly with the democratically elected Egyptian government they’d just ousted. This week they are moving to restore ties, reopening the border crossing, and Hamas couldn’t be happier, saying they’re turning a new page in Hamas-Egypt relations.
This looks to dramatically shift Palestinian politics, as Abbas has been relying on Hamas’ international isolation as a big part of his efforts to clamp down on the Gaza Strip, pushing electricity cuts and withholding pay from government employees, trying to pressure Hamas into surrendering.
Egypt’s renewed ties with Hamas are likely to be at least privately endorsed by Israel, as during the Mubarak era, Egypt was often used as an intermediary during Israel’s intermittent invasions of the Gaza Strip to negotiate deals that ultimately end those conflicts.