What Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority, Want Out of the Flotilla Mess

Missing so far in all the coverage of the flotilla disaster is a bit of strategic analysis. Shmuel Rosner remedies this deficiency by reminding us that Egypt (and by extension, the Palestinian Authority) stand in opposition to Hamas's European and Turkish enablers, and sincerely wish Israel would figure out smarter ways of neutralizing the existential threat (to moderate Arabs, not Israel) that Hamas poses:

The Egyptians, who share a border with southern Gaza, were also condemned by the emir of Qatar, Hamad bin Jassim, who expressed hope that the incident will "be used as a catalyst to lift Israel's and Egypt's blockade of the Gaza Strip." Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak criticized the use of "excessive and unjustified force" but not the blockade itself. Similarly, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he "condemns a disproportionate use of force." The White House expressed deep regret over the "loss of life and injuries sustained," but it didn't criticize the siege on Gaza.

Ambinder, on the other hand, states, in a summary of policies that might be casualties of the flotilla debacle, that the blockade is in trouble:

Second, the blockade of Gaza, which has aided Israeli security, will probably be a casualty of the action of Israel's own military enforcing it. That, in turn, might fortify Hamas's credibility over the Palestinian Authority -- well, I'll stop here and let others who know more run with this one. Here's betting that the first item of business for the U.S. will be to persuade Israel to end the blockade and accept an interim solution.

I'll take the bet. When Abu Mazen, the president of the Palestinian Authority, comes to Washington next week, the first thing on his agenda will be a plea to President Obama to support the siege of Hamas. If the siege is lifted, if Hamas is given credibility, the Palestinian Authority would be crippled.