As Egypt stepped up its mediation efforts to secure a ceasefire, holding intense meetings in Cairo with Hamas and Israeli officials, and despite mixed messages about both sides’ sentiments vis-a-vis the Egyptian proposal, Israel continued its relentless destruction of Gaza.
News reports about the meetings have been both confused and confusing, especially that at the very same moment that Amos Gilat, the Israeli negotiator was reportedly saying that Israel will welcome the proposal, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was promising more destruction in Tel Aviv.
On the Hamas side, the antagonistic tone towards Egypt has notably subsided, with one Hamas delegate admitting that Egypt is the only country capable of mediating a just agreement, his calmer attitude perhaps reflecting a response to the fact that last week Egyptian authorities allowed some 60 doctors to go through the crossing into Gaza as well as some international journalists.
Reminiscent of Beirut 2006, the bloody ordeal seems to be heading to some form of finale as the death toll reaches 1,100 and the wounded hit 5,000.
Guarantees for a lasting peace, however, seem far-fetched because no matter how much they attempt to deny it, the Israelis will never give up the land they have annexed and the Palestinians will never stop fighting for it.
On the eve of President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration, all eyes are on him. Synonymous with a global hope for change, Obama, as analysts have noted, has a Herculean task ahead of him when it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict; and with its brutal war on Gaza, Israel has multiplied the complexity of the Middle East quagmire for the incoming president.
Will Obama continue in the footsteps of his predecessor and his double standards in dealing with the security of Israel as an issue circumventing all international laws and humanitarian principles, or does he look back 30 years, taking as his idol Jimmy Carter, a true leader for peace and stability whose sponsorship of the Camp David Accords was the manifestation of an unequivocal belief that there can be no peace without justice?
We can only wait and see.
Rania Al Malky is the Chief Editor of Daily News Egypt.