Egypt Needs a Ruler

The Muslim Brotherhood is cooperating with Israel on security matters but showing itself incapable of governing.

Why did the Palestinian Au­thority’s prime minister resign after just two weeks on the job? Will his decision have an impact on the peace process?

Rami Hamdallah realized that he had taken a position that didn’t let him do anything. If we think that there is politics and infighting in Israel, among the Jews, it’s nothing compared to what’s happening among the Palestinians.

Hamdallah was assigned two deputies, who were supposed to keep a close eye on him and report back to the boss, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The problem is that the two fought among themselves and with Hamdallah.

He quickly realized that he had given up a cushy life in the ivory tower of academe — he had status on the Palestinian street as president of An-Najah University in Nablus — in order to take a thankless job that required him to fight with people all the time.

In addition, he received less than a warm reception, to put it mildly, from Hamas. That was to be expected, considering the state of relations between Fatah and Hamas, but still, when it happens it can be quite uncomfortable

Given all these things, it didn’t take him long to come to the conclusion that this wasn’t for him and he wanted his old job back.

As regards your second question, his resignation has no impact on the peace process, which is not going anywhere.

Does U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is returning to the region this week for the fifth time since taking office, have any tricks up his sleeve to force PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to sit and negotiate with Israel?

None that we’re aware of.

Israel doesn’t see a Pales­ tinian willingness to enter into any genuine dialogue. The Palestinians think that the willingness to sit down and talk is a concession on their part that warrants a gesture from Israel in return.

Israel absolutely refuses to play their game. Israel has no intention of paying the Palestinians to show up at the negotiating table.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has suggested that the U.S. Secretary of State set up a tent halfway between Yerushalayim and Ramallah — 15 minutes from each city — and that he, Netanyahu, would remain in the tent negotiating for as long as necessary — but without preconditions, and certainly without prepayment to the Palestinians for deigning to show up to talks.

Why should Abbas agree to negotiate? According to Hamodia’s report this week, Netanyahu is giving him the opportunity to build massively in Yehudah and Shomron in a way that makes a Palestinian state all but inevitable, and that doesn’t require Abbas to make concessions that would get him into trouble with the Arab world.

You’re right. Abbas doesn’t have motivation to come to the table. He has every reason to believe that he’ll get a Palestinian state without conceding anything.

Moreover, the Palestinian economy is booming. Ramallah’s new shopping centers are full of customers, and they’re buying, not browsing. There are really two economies. Those who are out of work are in desperate straits, but there is also a lot of affluence in their society.

In addition, Israel is allowing Palestinians to “let off steam,” throwing rocks and Molotov cocktails, without responding. There is therefore nothing pressing them to enter into negotiations.

Attention has been focused recently on the northern border — the fighting in Syria and developments with Hiz­ bullah. What’s happening with Egypt?

The situation inside the country is very bad. Factories are closing and unemployment is skyrocketing. The average citizen has lost his sense of personal security, as crime is rampant.

Overall, there is a feeling among the populace that the Muslim Brotherhood is not capable of ruling.

However, insofar as Egypt’s relationship with Israel, it is surprisingly good. There is close cooperation in the diplomatic and military spheres. It’s not that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is on the phone with President Mohammed Morsi, but that people in the Prime Minister’s Office are talking regularly with the Egyptian leader’s people, and officials in the Israeli Foreign Ministry are talking to their Egyptian counterparts.

Most important is the tight cooperation between the Muslim Brotherhood and Israel in the realm of security. Israel accedes to most requests that relate to the Sinai. If Egypt wants to send in more troops than allowed by the peace treaty, or a helicopter here or there, in order to combat terrorism, Israel is accommodating.

Whenever there is an infiltration or even a report of a planned infiltration, there is a phone call from the Egyptian military commander to the Israeli commander in the region.

Sinai has turned into a no-man’s land, occupied by all kinds of anarchists who were thrown out of Cairo and sent into the wilderness. But while this approach solved Egypt’s problem in the short term, in the long term it could blow up in their face. And though Israel has no interest in involving itself in Egypt’s internal affairs, and certainly none in taking responsibility for its economy, any serious blowup will have ramifications for Israeli security.

The bottom line, again, is that the Muslim Brotherhood appears to be unable to rule Egypt.

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