A credible peace mediator needed

Neither Egypt nor America can be a credible peace broker for Palestine and Israel. The region needs a new peace mediator. Who could it be?

December 10, 2012 22:41
2 minute read.
hilary and morsi 521

hilary and morsi 521. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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After its veto at the UN against upgrading Palestine to observer member status, America has become as villainous as Israel in the eyes of Palestinians. Broadly speaking, Arabs now clearly see the United States as the main supporter of Israel and its settlement plans in the occupied territories.

This view of America was portrayed by Al-Ahram in a cartoon depicting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu holding a gun in his right hand, which has a bulging muscle with Uncle Sam’s hat perched on it, saying happily, “If we don’t reach a diplomatic solution, we will expand our operations in Gaza.”

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The metaphor here highlights that Israel’s power comes from the United States and that any attack from Israel on Palestinians is approved by the US.

Similarly, Al-Masry al-Youm ran a picture of America and Israel hugging each other passionately, and in the corner Uncle Sam saying to an Arab (while pointing to the hugging scene), “I think it is clear how we strongly press on Israel.” As can be seen, the analogy stresses that America lies to Arabs regarding its peace efforts.

Worryingly, Arab hatred of the US is on the rise, especially after threats from some American lawmakers to shut down the PLO’s office in Washington and deprive Palestine of US aid in sympathy with Israel following the long-sought victory for the Palestinians at the UN.

On this account, the US cannot be a credible mediator in any peace talks. But what about Egypt? According to many politicians and commentators, Egypt succeeded in ending eight days of fighting between Hamas and Israel. But in my view, the Western media sympathy for Palestine played a major role in putting pressure on Israel to stop its attacks on Gaza, and hence paving the way for a cease-fire.

The question I want to raise here is, how do the Israelis see Egypt under the rule of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi? The answer to this question tells us why, like America, Egypt isn’t a suitable peace broker between Israel and Palestine.

For the Israelis (as for many media commentators), the Muslim Brotherhood to which Morsi belongs is Hamas’ parent organization. As such, Morsi, from the Israeli perspective, takes the Palestinian side. For them, unlike his predecessor Hosni Mubarak, Morsi opens the Rafah border for Gazans and backs Hamas in its fight against Israel. Importantly, Israel feels that Hamas takes its strength from Morsi and his group.

Worse, Muslim Brotherhood member themselves have ambitions to create a Muslim caliphate with Jerusalem as its capital. Importantly, prominent Egyptian cleric Safwat Hegazy has been reported by media as saying in Tahrir Square, “The United States of the Arabs will be restored on the hands of that man [Morsi]. Our capital shall not be Cairo, Mecca or Medina. It shall be Jerusalem,” as the crowds cheered.

Tension lingers in the Gaza Strip following the cease-fire. And because of his proposed constitution, Morsi faces his own problems in Egypt.

Crucially, he is now described as “a Pharaoh,” a dictator, by the Egyptians themselves. How can Egypt solve the problems of others if it can’t settle its own? In sum, neither Egypt nor America can be a credible peace broker for Palestine and Israel. The region needs a new peace mediator. Who could it be?

The writer is an Egyptian artist and a PhD student.

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