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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Political change in Egypt affects situation in Gaza

GAZA, Feb. 3 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's political quake and the call for changing the regime of President Hosni Mubarak have seriously impacted on the situation in the Gaza Strip, due to the geographic, political and historic ties between the coastal enclave and its neighbor.
Since the unrest broke out in Egypt last week, the residents of the Gaza Strip, ruled by Islamic Hamas movement, have followed with deep concerns the situation in Egypt, wondering the future of the regime and the influence on them.
Right after the protests erupted in Egypt, the Egyptian security forces immediately shut down Rafah crossing point on the borders with the Gaza Strip, while the deposed government of Hamas deployed dozens of its police personnel along the borderline with Egypt.
The closure of the crossing point refrained the business of smuggling food, fuel and construction raw materials through the tunnels under the borderline between Egypt and Gaza, which increased fears and concerns in the enclave.

If the regime of Egypt, the most populous Arab country, collapses as a result of the week-long unrest, the region will face uncertainty and gloomy future, experts in the Gaza Strip said.
Talal Oukal, a Gaza-based political analyst, told Xinhua that " the situation in Gaza will be affected by the political change in Egypt." "So far, there have been no changes after the mass protests in Egypt calmed down and President Mubarak is taking hold of the situation."
"If Mubarak's regime is replaced by a new one, I believe this would affect the ties between Egypt and the Palestinians, Israel and the United States. If the regime is changed, there will be a new Middle East because Egypt plays an important role in the Middle East peace process," Oukal said.
People in the Gaza Strip supported the Egyptians' demands for reforms in the beginning with deep concerns. However, when Mubarak began the reforms, a Palestinian majority changed their position and started to feel that Mubarak is a strong president, he added.
The unclear consequences of the unrest in Egypt made Hamas in Gaza and Fatah of Palestinian National Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which rules the West Bank, officially declining to comment on the situation in Egypt.
Gaza Hamas strongman Mahmoud al-Zahar told the Bethlehem-based Maan news agency that what happens in Egypt "is Egypt's internal affair that is only related to the Egyptians," adding that "the Palestinians would never intervene into Egypt's internal security and political affairs."
Azzam al-Ahmad, Fatah block chief in the Palestinian parliament, also refused to comment on the situation in Egypt, but said that the Palestinian leadership doesn't intervene in the affairs of any Arab country "because we reject any external powers' interference into the Palestinian affairs."
However, the Palestinians in Gaza had different views over the future of the Gaza Strip if the regime of Egypt changes, mainly if the Muslim Brotherhood, the biggest opposition party in Egypt, joins the new government or takes over the regime of Egypt.
Observers in Gaza believed that foreign forces had laid their fingers on Egypt's internal affairs and the country's opposition, mainly the Islamists, would prepare themselves until new elections are held in Egypt, hoping to win and lead the parliament and the regime.
Hani Habib, a Gaza-based political analyst, told Xinhua that if Mubarak's regime is toppled and the Islamists take over the government, "this would certainly affect Egypt's efforts in achieving the reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah."
Meanwhile, Israel would be happy if the Islamists come into power, and will probably cancel the historic peace treaty of Camp David that was signed with Egypt in 1978, and it may re-occupy the border areas between Egypt and the Gaza Strip for security reasons, Habib said.
"The Palestinian leadership's political interests with Egypt would completely contradict. So if this hypothesis happens and the Muslim Brotherhood takes over the Egyptian government, I believe that the Palestinian situation would witness developments that will be the worst ever," Habib said.


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