In the aftermath of its disastrous raid on the Mavi Marmara, part of a flotilla that tried to break the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza, Israel has come under intense pressure to lift the embargo of the Hamas-run territory. The decision of how to handle Gaza under Hamas rule is an extraordinarily complicated one for many political, strategic and humanitarian reasons. In fact, there is one aspect of the embargo that many of its presumably peace-loving opponents fail to note: Ending the blockade of Gaza could kill the chances for peace.
There is a reason why Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is quietly telling powerful players -- including U.S. President Barack Obama -- that while he wants the siege eased, he opposes ending the naval blockade. An end of the blockade could strengthen Hamas, whose charter mocks negotiations, rejects compromise, and commits the organization solemnly and theologically to Israel's destruction.
Egypt, too, opposes lifting the naval blockade. Egyptian officials say they worry about the difficulty of inspecting cargo well enough to keep more weaponry from entering Gaza. While Cairo occasionally opens its border with Gaza at the Rafah crossing, it is committed to containing Hamas' physical presence and its ideological influence in Egypt.