Global Insider: Egypt-Palestine Relations

Egypt's military caretaker government played an important role in the new reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah, brokering secret talks that led to a breakthrough announced in Cairo. In an email interview, David Schenker, Aufzien Fellow and director of the Program on Arab Politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as well as author of "Egypt's Enduring Challenges: Shaping the Post-Mubarak Environment," discussed relations between Egypt and Hamas and Fatah.

WPR: What is the recent history of relations between Egypt and the Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah?

David Schenker: Egypt has maintained strong ties with the Palestinian Authority and its Fatah-led government since the PA's establishment in 1994. For years, Egypt under President Hosni Mubarak alternately -- and unsuccessfully -- cajoled, encouraged and prodded Fatah chairman Yassir Arafat toward a peace treaty with Israel. By contrast, Cairo has long seen Hamas, the Palestinian chapter of the Muslim Brotherhood, as a threat. Mubarak was concerned about ideological contagion, particularly the possibility that the violent tactics espoused by the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood might be adopted by the more docile Egyptian branch. The group -- labeled a terrorist organization by the U.S., the European Union, Japan and Canada -- was also backed by Egypt's regional rival, Iran.

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