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Open the border, or the Egyptian initiative will be another strike against Gaza

Having a neutral position on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is to have a bias towards the aggressor. Israel does not need anyone to help it militarily or on the intelligence level, or anyone to understand its criminal tendencies; it needs people to turn a blind eye to its crimes. Being neutral now, given what is happening in Gaza, is criminal, as the very existence of the Palestinians is under threat. Israeli arrogance is at an all-time high as it prosecutes its wars while simultaneously going through the motions of peace talks (or trying to). It now ignores all "historic" peace agreements and interim understandings that have been reached, and it no longer differentiates between Mahmoud Abbas, the Godfather of Oslo who believes in talks, and Khaled Meshaal, who rejects Oslo and believes in resistance.

Away from secret and closed meetings, the media shows that Egypt's position over Abbas is no different to its stance on Meshaal, and that Cairo's man is actually Mohamed Dahlan, the only Palestinian welcome in the country. The irony is that in a long, strangely-timed, interview, Dahlan announced that he is going to Cairo to help the Palestinian people and rid them of Hamas in Gaza and Abbas in Ramallah. Abbas's perception of the seriousness of this has pushed him to take radical steps, such as asking for international help from Hamas allies Qatar and Turkey.

In these circumstances, the Egyptian initiative was twisted. There is no way, not even in negotiations regarding prisoners and detainees, for someone to come up with a ceasefire initiative without consulting both or all parties to the conflict. In this case, Egypt launched a diplomatic bomb against the Palestinian resistance to paint it as the side rejecting the chance of peace. When US Secretary of State John Kerry went to Doha to communicate via the Qatari government with Hamas, he did what was expected. Had the Hamas leadership been stationed in Cairo, then that is where the discussions would have started.

It is neither ethically nor politically acceptable to reduce the importance of the victims in all of this. The Palestinians are the aggrieved party; it is they who have been displaced since 1948 and under siege since 2007, so they are the people who have the right to resist or not resist. Decisions about war and peace must revolve around them, not the occupying power and aggressor. They pay the price with the blood of their children and their families. Resistance, even under the worst conditions, has displayed unexpected abilities on the ground, amid political harmony among the factions, even with Abbas. The ceasefire initiative should not be a bomb against resistance but a bomb against the aggressor. It's worth recalling what Hafez Al-Assad and Rafiq Hariri did for Syria and Lebanon, and what Mohamed Morsi did in the understandings reached after the 2012 Israeli war on Gaza, in order to learn how diplomacy can serve the resistance.

As one Western media source pointed out, however, Egypt's Al-Sisi is not being asked to do what Morsi did; nor is he needed to be a cheerleader for Gaza and the Palestinians. All that is requested of him is to be a good mediator for the best interests of the Palestinian people. I do not understand how Jordan, which is not part of the "axis of resistance", has transported injured people to Amman, with Israeli approval, and has treated thousands of Palestinians in its field hospital, while Egypt does not even open its borders. Closing the Rafah border puts more pressure on the resistance than the closure of the Israeli-controlled border crossings. If the ceasefire proposal is not to be simply another attack on the resistance in Gaza, then the first step would be to open the Rafah crossing; after that, the Egyptian initiative will start to be meaningful.

Translated from Al Ghad newspaper, 12 July, 2014

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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