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A couple of weeks ago, amid the boring and ridiculous drama of the NGO crisis and the possible end of US aid to Egypt, MP Essam al-Erian of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and head of Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee made a bold statemement on the question of aid and peace with Israel.
“US economic aid is part of the [Camp David] Accords and if America decided to cut off [aid to Egypt], we will change or cancel the agreement,” said Erian. “Egypt is the first and final decision-maker and no one can pressure it.”
In this statement, Erian acknowledges that the Camp David Accord means nothing and has no importance to Egypt save for the US aid it comes with. However a few days later, FJP Chairman Mohammed Morsy said, “For the time being, talk of forgoing US aid disrupts the development of the state's institutions.”
By combining the two statements, the FJP, which represents the majority in Parliament, finally gives us insight into the party’s explicit vision regarding the peace agreement with Israel; in other words, that Egypt is a poor country in need of aid and therefore it accepts the peace agreement with Israel in return for US money and weapons.
In media and political interviews since ousted President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) always focused on and stressed two key points: First, their commitment to the treaty, and second, their commitment to free market policies.
But what about what lies beyond these two points?
And are Egyptian-Israeli relations limited to the peace agreement?
What about the Palestinian-Israeli question? Does the FJP recognize the Oslo Accords and what came after? Or does the FJP prefer to align with Hamas’ opposition to the accords and to the 1967 borders?
It is becoming clear that the FJP does not have any clear stance on the Arab-Israeli conflict apart from its firm position on the necessity of American aid and thus it holds on to the Egyptian peace agreement with Israel. What is more distressing is that the flow of international aid is not only a priority for the FJP or Egyptian authorities in general, but to the Palestinian authorities themselves. In other words, one could argue that many parties, including the Palestinian authorities, are not invested in ending the conflict, since its continuation keeps the aid coming.
A few years ago, Hamas came to power in Gaza through democratic elections and since then adopted a set of principles as part of its political platform, which included the non-recognition of Israel, refusing negotiations and continuing jihad as the sole means of liberating the country.
After coming to power, Hamas continued to refuse negotiations or to recognize Israel, but at the same time there has been no news of the jihad they referred to. In fact, Hamas’ security forces have been hunting down and arresting jihadist Salafi groups and individuals to prevent them from continuing jihad, sometimes in the form of firing locally-made rockets at Israel.
But what about the future of the Palestinian saga? There is no talk about the future; there are no plans and there is no vision for a conclusive solution to this lengthy conflict.
Hamas, however, is not the only party lacking a vision for a conclusive solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict; the MB also lacks such vision, as do all Arab regimes who are preoccupied by ensuring that they remain in power.
Thus, it seems true that no one will benefit from finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, since as long as the conflict and muffled tensions continue, the flow of military and financial aid to the Israeli and Egyptian military establishments continues, as will the flow of European aid to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah.
As long as Hamas continues to adopt jihad through passionate songs and speeches, the Iranian and Syrian support will also continue, and as long as the peace negotiation rounds move between Riyadh and Doha so will the flow of financial aid from the Gulf States to the Gaza Strip.
Many will profit from the continuation of the Palestinian issue. It’s a vicious circle of regimes pretending to want peace or practicing verbal jihad. There is no peace but no war, no space to dream or hope for closure.
What’s more worrying than the lack of insight or vision with regard to the Palestinian issue by all political forces in Egypt is this lack of vision by the Palestinian forces themselves. Even more distressing is the fact that this comes at a time when all of the meanings of the Palestinian cause have changed; even the word ‘Palestine’ is difficult to define.
Arab Islamic Palestine has become Islamic Gaza, the West Bank pretends to be secular, issues such as the diaspora, the 1948 Arabs or the refugee situation have been marginalized. Returning to the homeland has become a distant dream, and for some of the new generations, it has become more of a myth passed down through the generations. Arab public opinion is only slightly provoked when news leaks about the construction of a new Israeli tunnel under the Aqsa Mosque, while the arrests of Palestinians, the conditions of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, and the assassinations and slander do not raise concerns from Arab spectators.
Translated from Al-Masry Al-Youm by Aisha El-Awady