The Egypt-Gaza Nexus

(AFP/Hamas/File, Mohammed al-Hams)

A gradual yet significant shift in Egyptian policy toward Gaza has occurred since Mohamed Morsi won the presidency in democratic elections in June.  Hosni Mubarak enforced a blockade of Gaza with Israel since 2007, severely limiting the freedom of movement for Palestinians.

In a reversal of Mubarak’s policy, Cairo has recently permitted Gazans to enter Egypt via Rafah for three days without a Visa.  Hamas has also stated that Gaza will soon become connected to Egypt’s electricity grid and natural gas pipeline.  These actions would alter Israel’s role as supplier of power and energy to the coastal territory and advance its claims that is not the occupying power. Reports suggest that this may be just a first step.

After Morsi’s new government becomes more confident and established, it might ease further restrictions in Gaza and ultimately seek a total lift of the blockade and a free trade agreement.  Some analysts speculate that these gestures underscore a series of events which may ultimately lead to Egypt annexing the Gaza Strip or some type of Gaza-Egypt confederation.  Such a scenario would exacerbate Hamas-Fatah tensions, isolate the West Bank, greatly reduce Mahmoud Abbas’s influence and invalidate the prospects for a two-state solution.

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