Meanwhile, it is beginning to appear that the actions of Hamas, which dominates the Gaza Strip bordering Egypt, are practically leading to a three-state situation with Israel and the West Bank. Again, they refuse to participate in the recommended elections largely because they believe they will win and Fatah will misrepresent the results.
Many in the Gaza Strip, both the radicals of Hamas and the general population living there, hope that if Egypt’s government changes that perhaps the Rafah border crossing will open for more flow of goods and migrants. However, Israel controls that crossing as much as Egypt. A new Egyptian government may not be able to change this situation even if it chose to.
But this begs a vital question: Will the make up of the new Egyptian government lead Egypt to change how it has been involved in the currently-broken internal Palestinian reconciliation efforts?
For some time, Egypt has attempted to play peacemaker between Fatah and Hamas, but some actors believe that Mubarak’s approach favored moderate Fatah over radical Hamas and may have been influenced behind the scenes by the U.S.
If the “new” Egypt shapes up to be a mixed salad of parties, liberal to radical, pro-Western to Sharia-pushing, perhaps only a moderate, middle of the road candidate will be able to lead, and Egypt will continue along much the same road as it has with Palestine.
However, even if a more radical Islamist bloc comes to control parliament, some experts believe the only thing that will change is that Egypt would play a slightly more even hand between Fatah and Hamas, rather than leaning toward Fatah.
There are fears in the West that a more radical Egypt would create an anti-Western alliance with Hamas and other players in the region. But as of today’s conversations among Egyptians, few think Egypt is going to allow their happy days of reform lead to anything that would de-stabilize its friend, Palestine.