Egypt and the Palestinian Cause - www.kas.de
Analysen und Argumente
This portlet should not exist anymore
By Anne Bauer
The Palestinian cause, which gained momentum with the Nakba in 1948, has long unanimously been referred to as the principle Arab cause, a contemporary source of unity among all Arab nations. Historically, it has captured the attention, respect and commitment of the Arab people and dominated their leaders’ political relations with the Palestinians as well as Israelis. Its political terms and conditions were ultimately enshrined in the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative (API), which until today constitutes the most established proposal for peace endorsed by Arab states. Most importantly, this includes Palestinian statehood with Jerusalem as the capital and a settlement of the Palestinian refugee question. In that sense, it can be regarded as a blueprint when attempting to define the Palestinian cause as a political endeavor within the Arab context.
Yet, throughout the last decade, this fundamental notion of Arab unity has been contested. Not only have the 2011 uprisings, commonly known as the Arab Spring, turned Arab citizens’ attention to domestic problems and away from traditional Pan-Arab foreign policy topics, also more Arab States have normalized ties with Israel and supported policies against Palestinian interests that previously would have been unthinkable. A decade after the Arab Spring, it therefore seems timely and relevant to re-assess the place Palestine holds within the Arab world. We thus ask: How has the Arab world’s stance towards the Palestinian cause evolved? And, do we possibly see an increasing “Arab fatigue” towards it?
Before being able to make an informed inference regarding the aggregated Arab position towards the Palestinian cause to date, it is necessary to gain an in-depth understanding of a critical number of individual country cases first. Here, the country selected as the first case study is Egypt. Historically, Egypt has been the most important Arab player when it comes to the extent of influence it exerts on the Palestinian issue. Its relevance is derived both from its geographical proximity as well as long-standing engagement by which the different Egyptian leaders have shaped the Palestinians’ fate significantly over time; from Nasser, who championed the Palestinian cause, to Sadat, the first Arab leader to make peace with Israel.
Therefore, when the Arab Spring shook the Middle East a decade ago, perhaps no one looked closer at the unfolding Egyptian revolution than the Palestinians, hopeful that their cause would gain renewed momentum and support. But did those hopes materialize? This study will provide an integrated analysis of the most significant foreign and domestic political factors and developments affecting Egyptian-Palestinian relations since then. It will furthermore make an original contribution by going beyond the traditional definition of the Palestinian cause as a mere superordinate political construct and endeavor, and in addition integrate a “more human” level by looking at how recent Egyptian policies have directly affected Palestinians’ lives. The study will show that the Egyptian-Palestinian relation has different layers and is not purely bilateral.
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