Walking a tightrope: Negotiating a ceasefire deal with Hamas

Gaza ceasefire plan: Much ado about nothing

Saleh Al-Arouri,top Hamas Commander

Smadar Perry writes in YNET, “On the face of it, we have a fascinating situation: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled his (important? Maybe not) trip to Colombia, and made a point of explaining that he decided to stay in Israel to deal with matters related to Gaza. Meanwhile, a delegation of senior Hamas figures, led by Saleh al-Arouri, the great villain who was involved in the murder and abduction of three Israeli youths—Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Frenkel and Eyal Yifrach—in 2014, arrived in Gaza…The situation took an unexpected turn when the Hamas leadership held a rather casual meeting in Cairo and then headed to the Gaza Strip to have a broader forum, walk around Gaza, and make decisions in the field.”…”

“Note that we are talking about a cease-fire deal with Gaza alone, the arrangement does not include the West Bank. Our eyes, then, are set to the strip, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his associates will follow the developments as well and burst with anger.”…”What does the ceasefire agreement entail? A five-year truce (with the option to extend it further), cessation of hostilities between Gaza and Israel, removal of economic barriers from the Gaza Strip, bringing donors to the Gaza Strip to fund water, electricity, the construction of infrastructure, and the renovation of houses destroyed in IAF bombings. Next, the construction of a sea port for Gaza in Ismailia, Egypt, and an airport for the strip in Sinai. The final stage of the agreement includes the exchange of prisoners, captives, and missing persons (both sides are not satisfied with this plan).What is fascinating about the story is that Israel, just like Hamas, wants Egypt to mediate the cease-fire arrangement.”

And yet everything is still open. It seems to me that there was no such precedent, at least not under Netanyahu’s leadership, of a ceasefire agreement forged between Israel and Hamas’s leadership. Both sides are suspicious of each other, and even Egypt, which knows its way around these waters, is not free of suspicions. (more…)

Ismail Haniyah, Head of Hamas politburo

Alex Fishman writes in YNET, “If someone had told the Goldin and Shaul families that UN Special Envoy Nickolay Mladenov—the man behind the proposed ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas—has already left the region last weekend for his annual holiday, they may have been spared another exchange of blows with the Prime Minister’s Office and those unnamed Cabinet members who accused them of emotional blackmail. This is because if Mladenov decided to pack his bags and go, the chances of reaching an agreement are non-existent. The man wouldn’t have just up and left a life’s work to go on vacation if he thought for even a moment the plan he has been working on for a long time was going to be realized. The bereaved parents once again served as a backdrop to the show the Israeli governments puts on every now and again, the entire purpose of which is to present Israel as a country agonizing over difficult decisions on humanitarian concessions to Hamas, just to ensure quiet for the residents of the Gaza border.”…

“Israel doesn’t believe Hamas. Not about a short-term truce or about a long-term one. It also doesn’t want a Palestinian unity government, a Palestinian sea port, and other fantasies. Israel wants to go back to March 29, before the “March of Return” protests on the Gaza border began, and this is probably what’s going to happen. But in order to return to that point, we need to convince Abbas to release the salaries to the Gaza Strip. This basic thing will give Hamas economic relief and lower the level of discontent on the Gaza street. Israel has already been able to convince the PA to release some salaries to Gaza, and it will certainly make an effort in this regard now as well.” (more…)

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