Roger L. Simon

Israel "drunk with power"? Parsing the Middle East

This morning we have two interesting… and superficially contradictory… reports from the Gaza War in the Israeli press. Ynet tells of Egyptian foreign minister’s disdain for a US Israeli border security agreement:

Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Saturday his country was not committed to the US-Israeli pact to halt arms smuggling into the Gaza Strip.

“We have no commitment towards this memo whatsoever,” Aboul Gheit told reporters. “We do not know anything about this memo and it does not concern us in anything,” he said.

He added that Israel was the main obstacle to the “Egyptian efforts” to end an agreement by the war in Gaza. Questioned by the press on the main obstacle to the Egyptian mediation underway, Aboul Gheit said: “Israeli intransigence”.

“Israel is drunk with power and violence,” he acknowledged.

Ho-kay…. Meanwhile, over at Haaretz:

A government source emphasized that there has been great progress with Egypt in reaching an agreement on fighting arms smuggling. The deal would require the combined use of technological measures on the border between Gaza and Egypt, operations against smugglers in the southern Gaza town of Rafah and the use of international experts to identify smuggling tunnels on the border.

The deal would also call for cooperation between Israel and Egypt on matters relating to the Gaza Strip in which they have shared interests, without the interference of Hamas.

Egypt is at the moment considering whether to organize a summit in the near future in Cairo between Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Egypt’s state-run news agency MENA reported on Saturday that Mubarak has invited French President Nicholas Sarzoky and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for talks on how to end the Gaza offensive.

Liar’s poker, anyone? My sense here is that Israel is holding most of the cards. The Egyptians seem to do be doing what they can to defuse Hamas while keeping their gonzo public as quiet as possible. The Israelis will take a propaganda hit, but that’s the price of victory for them these days. Their allies only like them when they are down.