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The push for a Gaza cease-fire risks becoming mired in a regional tussle for influence between conservative Arab states and Islamist-friendly governments, with rival powers competing to take credit for a truce, analysts and officials say.The main protagonists are Arab heavyweight Egypt and the tiny Gulf state of Qatar, on opposite sides of a regional standoff over Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, and its ideological patron the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian officials suspect Qatar encouraged Hamas to reject a cease-fire plan Cairo put forward last week to try to end an Israeli assault that has now killed more than 500 Palestinians as well as 18 Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians.An official in Cairo said the Gaza battle "is part of a regional conflict between Qatar, Egypt and Turkey.Critics say Egypt's strongly anti-Islamist government is trying to pressure Hamas into accepting a truce offering few concessions for the group. Its aim, they say, is to weaken the movement and allied Islamist forces in Egypt. Western governments see Qatar, maverick though it may be, as a potentially significant regional mediator because of its links to Islamist movements in Egypt, Syria and elsewhere.
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