The Guardian reports: Egypt claims it has not been involved in any negotiations since the failure of its proposed ceasefire in Gaza – which was accepted by Israel but rejected by Hamas – and maintains that it is still waiting for formal confirmation of Hamas’s stance.
“For the time being there are no negotiations,” said Egypt’s foreign affairs spokesman, Badr Abdelatty. “We announced our initiative. There is increasing support from Arab leaders and the international community for the proposals. Abu Mazen [Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas] is coming today and has given them his backing. We are still waiting for the other Palestinian factions to give their official response to the initiative.”
A key mediator in previous Israeli-Palestinian tensions, Egypt proposed a ceasefire on Monday night, which it hoped would end the latest Gaza conflict that has now killed more than 200 Palestinians and one Israeli. The proposals were quickly accepted by Israel. While one Hamas official said the group was mulling its reaction, others in the group’s political and military wings rejected the initiative outright, claiming they had only found about it through the media and were angry that it did not deal with some of the group’s major demands: a conclusive end of Israel and Egypt’s blockade on Gaza, and the release of certain prisoners from Israeli jails.
Observers remain doubtful that Egypt has really stopped participating in negotiations following the failure of its ceasefire, given the embarrassment involved in failing to fulfil its traditional role of mediation. “There is of course contact on all sorts of levels,” said one Cairo-based diplomat.
HA Hellyer, a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution and Cairo-based analyst, said the unilateral nature of Egypt’s earlier efforts might now make Hamas even less willing to engage with them. But he doubted that Egypt had taken a backseat. [Continue reading…]