For those who are home, and for those who are on the way. For those who support the historic and just return of the land of Israel to its people, forever loyal to their inheritance, and its restoration.
Gamal A. G. Soltan Bitter Lemons 14 January '10 Posted before Shabbat
No more ad hoc arrangements. This is the message Egypt is sending to Hamas and the other relevant parties by setting up a fortified barrier along Egypt's border with the Gaza Strip.
The Egyptian move marks the end of an era in Egypt's policy toward Gaza and Hamas. In 2005, when Israel was getting ready to evacuate Gaza, Egypt demanded that the Israeli redeployment include the border region or "philadelphi strip" separating Egypt from Gaza. This was the first time since 1967 that Egypt had a direct land link with a Palestinian territory with no Israeli mediation. Egypt sought maximum possible maneuverability in conducting its relations with the narrow Gaza Strip. The arrangements made in 2005 helped enhance Egypt's role in Palestinian politics.
Developments in the ensuing years, however, have rendered Gaza a liability rather than an asset. Following Hamas' victory in Palestine's legislative elections of 2006 and the Islamists' takeover in Gaza the following year, Hamas became Egypt's neighbor. While Egypt's border with Gaza granted Cairo effective leverage against the radical Islamic organization, Hamas was also given an opportunity to press Egypt in exchange.
The past two years have witnessed complex maneuvers between Egypt and the Hamas government in Gaza. While Egypt has tried to accommodate Hamas so that Palestinian unity could be restored, Hamas sought to consolidate its grip on power in Gaza and enhance its position in Palestinian politics. Egypt employed tactics of cooptation and containment while Hamas was buying time, hoping it could exploit opportunities as they arose.
The Egyptian strategy reached deadlock when Hamas defied Cairo's efforts to reconcile rival Palestinian factions. Hamas' ability to balance its commitments toward its radical allies in Tehran and Damascus with the need to avoid alienating its big neighbor came to an end: Egypt chose not to continue the game of running in circles in its relations with Hamas. It was Hamas' reluctance that provoked Egypt to change course. Hamas' policy made it look as if it were taking Egypt for granted; Cairo realized the time had come to send Hamas a strong message.
I visited Hevron in November 2000 after the outbreak of the Rosh Hashanah War to see what could be done to assist in the face of the growing daily attacks on the community. After returning to work for the community in the summer of 2001, a bond and a love was forged that grows to this day. My wife Melody and I merited to be married at Ma'arat HaMachpela and now host visitors from throughout the world every Shabbat as well as during the week. Our goal, "Time to come Home!"