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Breaking through

"Breaking through" Continued...

Issue: "The other campaign," Feb. 9, 2008

Resealing the border will not be an easy task, either. While Egyptian security forces began erecting barbed wire fence across the gaping holes in the Rafah wall, Hamas personnel were busy bulldozing other portions of the barrier, determined to keep the border open.

As a key partner in U.S.-led efforts to jumpstart Middle East peace talks, Egypt will have to prove that it can control its Gaza border and put a cap on the weapons being smuggled through secret tunnels between Gaza and Egypt.

The skepticism surrounding the Annapolis peace efforts has been slowly chipped away by one promising reality: Leaders from both sides are talking. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas continued their dialogue at the end of January, and both pledge to avoid a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. But Abbas and his Fatah followers were ousted from Gaza last June, prompting the leader to disband the government and set up a new administration in the West Bank.

With dueling perspectives and suffering on both sides, the cycle of violence appears hard to break. The noticeable absence of Hamas at the table brings a harsh reality to the Bush administration's hope for a peace deal by the end of the year. The militant group and its troubled enclave will be a thorn in the side on all sides.

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