With another ceasefire set to expire, Israeli and Palestinian diplomats are once more in Cairo for Egyptian-brokered talks to end the fighting in Gaza. Egypt is hardly a neutral mediator: President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s hostility toward the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoot, Hamas, is no secret; neither, for that matter, is Egypt’s close security relationship with Israel, firmly established under ousted President Hosni Mubarak. But the inner workings of that relationship are rarely exposed.
That made the Wall Street Journal’s reporting last week of Israel’s close coordination withel-Sissi during its military assault on Gaza all the more revealing. The month-long conflict has so far killed 1,948 Palestinians, according to the United Nations, over two-thirds of them civilians. Sixty-four members of the Israel Defense Forces have died, as well as two Israeli civilians.
The backchannels between Cairo and Tel Aviv have been busy. “Reflecting Egypt's importance,” the Journal reported, senior Israeli officials “took Mr. Sisi's ‘temperature’ every day during the war to make sure he was comfortable with the military operation as it intensified. Israeli officials knew television pictures of dead Palestinians would at some point bring Cairo to urge Israel to stop.”