A Symposium on “Egypt and Putting Palestinian Internal House Back in Order!”
On the 15th of October 2017, the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs (ECFA) organized a Symposium on the theme of “Egypt and Putting Palestinian Internal House Back in Order … and the Implications of that on Peace Process”, or “ Egypt and reorder of the Palestinian House…and the reflections of that on the Peace Process” at ECFA’s Headquarter. The Symposium was chaired by ECFA Member, H.E. Ambassador Sayed Abou Zaid, with Participated Ambassador Dr. Barakat Al-Farra, former Ambassador of Palestine to Cairo and its Permanent Representative to the League of Arab States; ECFA Board Members, Major General Muhammad Mujahid El-Zayyat and H.E. Ambassador Muhammad Tawfeeq; as well as Dr. Subhi Esaileh, Editor-in-Chief of the “Israeli Selections” Quarterly Magazine; Major General Muhammad Ibrahim Al-Duwairy, Head of Israeli Studies Unit; and with attended Ambassador Dr. Mounir Zahran, ECFA Chairman; and a number of ambassadors and academics who are also ECFA Members.
The Symposium was organized in three sessions as follows:
– First Session: Palestinian National Reconciliation – Opportunities and Challenges.
(New developments that have led to throwing a stone in the stagnant water, opportunities of achieving reconciliation, process of reconciliation as well as regional and Arab environment).
– Second Session: Implications of Reconciliation Process on Opportunities for Moving Peace Process Forward.
(Egyptian Vision, Israeli Stance, American Stance).
– Third Session: Conclusion and Recommendations.
Participants of the Symposium emphasized the following points in particular:
Reconciliation is not an aim ; it is rather a first step towards completing the peace process, however it’s completing requires joint action by all parties to seek solutions to issues facing both sides, including:
(i) issues related to the problem of Gaza Strip employees, their salaries, and the deteriorating economic conditions in the Strip;
(ii) the more complex problems, included in 2011 Agreement, concerning the realization of Community Reconciliation for those who died during the confrontations between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) after Hamas’s Coup in 2007;
(iii) mechanism for elements of Hamas and Islamic Jihad Movements to join Fatah Movement, and how far Israel is willing to recognize them as part of the Palestinian Authority (PA);
(iv) Security Dilemma in Gaza Strip, and the possibility for Hamas Fighting Militia Elements to be part of the Palestinian Security Apparatus; and lastly
(v) Elections and Formation of a National Consensus Government that is acceptable to Israel, and to what extent Israel and the West would be ready to accept the idea of Hamas Elements being part of the would-be Consensus Government.
As for the acceptance by Hamas to enter into negotiations with Fatah Movement in order to bring the reconciliation process to an end, that came after it has issued a new document in May 2017, in which the Movement has adopted approaches that are different from its basic principles. The main impetus for Hamas to do that is in fact the result of:
(i) Internal Changes, i.e. deterioration of economic conditions in Gaza Strip;
(ii) Regional Changes that have emerged on the political landscape, i.e. diminishing roles of the two main regional supporters of the Movement, namely Turkey and Iran, as well as the decline of the Qatari Role, the main supporter of Hamas, after the recent Gulf Crisis, in addition to the classification, by Four Alliance States (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain), of Hamas as a Terrorist Group.
• Such situation has been arrived at as a result of Hamas Movement’s desire to uphold its existence in the Palestinian Political Arena and to avoid being any attempt to push out of the political scene