The cease-fire between Israel and Hamas that went into effect on Wednesday evening–and which was promptly broken by Hamas–is an uncertain outcome for both sides. It is a clear victory, however, for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government, which brokered the deal with the blessing of the Obama administration, taking over the mediating role once played by Hosni Mubarak’s regime without selling out its terrorist allies in Gaza.
Hamas is claiming victory because it was able to launch Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets that reached the outskirts of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and because it took credit for a bus bombing in central Tel Aviv that went unanswered. Israel is claiming success because it restored its deterrent force against Hamas rockets, destroyed much of the Iranian rocket stockpile in Gaza, and proved the strength of the Iron Dome missile defense system.
It is difficult to say which side benefited more from an end to the fighting–though Hamas clearly wanted the cease-fire more desperately than Israel did. Indeed, it seems that the Obama administration may have forced Israel to accept the deal, using future funding for Iron Dome as a bargaining chip. A poll conducted before the cease-fire showed that 70% of Israelis wanted to keep going. No democratic leader opposes 70% of the nation.
Egypt may have been pushed into restraining Hamas by threats to cut off U.S. aid. Yet new president Mohammed Morsi clearly relishes his new role as a regional broker. And unlike Mubarak, who was seen as a puppet for American interests, Morsi continued his anti-Israel rhetoric throughout the conflict, amplifying Turkey’s efforts to isolate Israel on the international stage as a rogue state–for the great crime of defending its civilians.
The Muslim Brotherhood government was also let off the hook for its security failures in the Sinai desert, which has become overrun by terrorists and which has served as the launch zone for rockets into Israel, both prior to and during the latest conflict. Morsi has sent mixed signals about his willingness to abide by Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel, but has suffered no appreciable diplomatic consequences from the U.S. for his behavior.
Even more ominously, Egypt’s new government is more cooperative with Iran than its predecessor. Mubarak, among other Arab leaders of the old guard, was eager for the U.S. and Israel to stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions. With the cease-fire saving much of the Iranian-built Hamas infrastructure from the damage of a ground war, Egypt–with Obama’s inadvertent help–may have helped tip the balance of power towards Tehran.