Mahmoud Abbas’s Visit to China Was about Power, Not Peace

Last week, the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas took a four-day trip to China. There he met with Xi Jinping, who affirmed his interest in “playing a greater role in promoting internal reconciliation in Palestine and realizing peace in the Middle East.” The two also concluded agreements on economic and technological cooperation and announced that their relations would be upgraded to a “strategic partnership.” Jordyn Haime comments:

Abbas’s visit was largely symbolic and more about China affirming its position in the Middle East and on the global stage rather than brokering a realistic peace deal.

Xi offered to mediate Israeli-Palestine peace talks and put forward a three-point proposal that advocates an independent Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital, more economic support for Palestinians, and a continued peace process. He also expressed interest in playing an “active part” in intra-Palestinian reconciliation, [which would involve] groups like Hamas or Hizballah that China has refused to treat as terrorist organizations.

“China is biased, contrary to [the image] it would like to portray,” [the expert on Chinese Middle East policy] Tuvia Gering said. “It absolves Palestinians of agency and responsibility for the conflict, fails to grasp local dynamics, and ignores Israel’s security challenges in its battle against terrorism.”

The first clause in a five-point joint declaration issued by both sides last week affirmed that the Palestinian Authority adheres to the one-China principle and supports China’s policies in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. “Xinjiang-related issues are not human-rights issues, but issues of anti-terrorism, de-radicalization, and anti-separatism. The Palestinian side firmly opposes using Xinjiang-related issues as an excuse to interfere with Chinese internal affairs,” it read.

Read more at China Project

More about: China, Israel-China relations, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Uighurs

Why Egypt Fears an Israeli Victory in Gaza

While the current Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, has never been friendly to Hamas, his government has objected strenuously to the Israeli campaign in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip. Haisam Hassanein explains why:

Cairo has long been playing a double game, holding Hamas terrorists near while simultaneously trying to appear helpful to the United States and Israel. Israel taking control of Rafah threatens Egypt’s ability to exploit the chaos in Gaza, both to generate profits for regime insiders and so Cairo can pose as an indispensable mediator and preserve access to U.S. money and arms.

Egyptian security officials have looked the other way while Hamas and other Palestinian militants dug tunnels on the Egyptian-Gaza border. That gave Cairo the ability to use the situation in Gaza as a tool for regional influence and to ensure Egypt’s role in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would not be eclipsed by regional competitors such as Qatar and Turkey.

Some elements close to the Sisi regime have benefited from Hamas control over Gaza and the Rafah crossing. Media reports indicate an Egyptian company run by one of Sisi’s close allies is making hundreds of millions of dollars by taxing Gazans fleeing the current conflict.

Moreover, writes Judith Miller, the Gaza war has been a godsend to the entire Egyptian economy, which was in dire straits last fall. Since October 7, the International Monetary Fund has given the country a much-needed injection of cash, since the U.S. and other Western countries believe it is a necessary intermediary and stabilizing force. Cairo therefore sees the continuation of the war, rather than an Israeli victory, as most desirable. Hassanein concludes:

Adding to its financial incentive, the Sisi regime views the Rafah crossing as a crucial card in preserving Cairo’s regional standing. Holding it increases Egypt’s relevance to countries that want to send aid to the Palestinians and ensures Washington stays quiet about Egypt’s gross human-rights violations so it can maintain a stable flow of U.S. assistance and weaponry. . . . No serious effort to turn the page on Hamas will yield the desired results without cutting this umbilical cord between the Sisi regime and Hamas.

Read more at Washington Examiner

More about: Egypt, Gaza War 2023, U.S. Foreign policy