Fouad Ajami: Will the Arab Spring Deliver for Hamas?

Roundup: Historians' Take

Mr. Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution and the author most recently of The Syrian Rebellion (Hoover Press, 2012).

'Egypt of today is entirely different from the Egypt of yesterday, and the Arabs of today are not the Arabs of yesterday." So said Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi after Friday prayers last week, adding: "We will not leave Gaza alone."

And Gaza will not leave Mr. Morsi alone. As in decades past, Egypt is playing mediator between the Palestinians and Israel—but Mr. Morsi finds himself in a more precarious position than his predecessors. He has been involved in a delicate balancing act since his election in June, mindful of his indebtedness to the Hamas-allied Muslim Brotherhood that brought him to power and of his need not to alienate his foreign-aid benefactors in Washington.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's mission to the region this week will include talks in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the West Bank with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and in Cairo with Egyptian leaders and officials of the Muslim Brotherhood. Whether Mr. Morsi will join the talks is not clear.

Mr. Morsi didn't rise to power to carry the burden of the Palestinian question. The 18 magical days of protests in Tahrir Square that upended the military regime, and the elections that followed, weren't about pan-Arab duties. Egyptians could rightly claim that they had paid their dues for Palestine. Enough was enough—the last of Egypt's four wars with Israel (in 1973) appeared to deliver a binding verdict: Egypt would put behind it the furies and the dangers of the struggle of Palestine. Yet here was Mr. Morsi indulging the radicalism and ruinous ways of Hamas when even the Palestinians have fed off that diet for far too long...

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