Monday, 25 June 2007

Hamas opens up? More on Sharm el-Sheikh

This is an update on an earlier post concerning Israel's release of a number of Palestinian Fatah prisoners and other events at a diplomatic summit being held in Egypt.

From the afore-quoted BBC News article:

The sacked Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya of Hamas, said he was ready to engage in talks with Fatah.

A spokesman for Mr Haniya in Gaza said Hamas was "disposed to immediately take up this dialogue" urged by Mr Mubarak.
(Update: new article can be found here.)

Is this a good sign of dialogue to come? Haniya's Hamas talks to Abbas' Fatah; Abbas talks to Israel? For all its turns away from freedom and democracy, I must give kudos to Egypt for time and time again playing mediator in the Palestinian conflicts — including that between Israel and Palestine. Mubarak might want to try his hand at ambassador rather than strengthening his authoritarian hold on Egypt. Along with Israeli, Palestinian, and Egyptian leaders, Jordan's King Abdullah was in attendance. Jordan is a fairly neutral player in the Middle East and, like Egypt, holds decent relations with America. I was somewhat surprised that Saudi Arabia was not at the Sharm el-Sheikh meeting. The Saudis have taken an active role in Palestinian mediation, notably cementing the short-lived Hamas-Fatah unity government earlier this year.

Plus I just wanted to add that
About 10,000 Palestinian prisoners are being held in Israeli jails, some without charge.

So the release of a mere 250 Fatah prisoners "who do not have blood on their hands", as Israeli PM Olmert said, is at most a "goodwill gesture", and nothing more. No doubt there are plenty of innocents in those jails, and that their jailing serves as a rallying cry for anti-Israel forces. However if Israel were to let them all go, it would loose major leverage (not that it seems to be using it, but brute rather military force shown to worsen the situation) and appear weak. It's a lose, lose situation — much like the conflicts of the Middle East themselves.

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