A deal being formulated between Israel, Egypt and Hamas involves deploying Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' troops at the crossings with the Gaza Strip, Palestinian sources told Haaretz Tuesday.Eric Trager sees this as a political defeat for Hamas
According to the sources, Israel and Hamas have agreed to the Egyptian proposal to deploy Palestinian Authority Presidential Guard members along the Karni, Sufa and Kerem Shalom crossings, where cargo is transferred between Israel and Gaza, as well as at the Erez crossing, a passageway for people and goods.
Guard members will be deployed also at the Rafah crossing, which connects Sinai, Egypt with the Strip.
Hamas forces will be positioned nearby and will essentially control the movement of Palestinian civilians in and out of Gaza.
This agreement is in keeping with the 2005 crossings agreement, between the U.S., Israel and the PA, which called for placing the crossings under forces loyal to Abbas.
This should be interpreted as the first major setback for Hamas since the party won the parliamentary elections over two years ago. At the very least, permitting Mahmoud Abbas’s Presidential Guard to assume control of border crossings represents a major political concession. If the Guard succeeds in stemming weapons smuggling, it will severely hamper Hamas’s military capabilities. Moreover, the ceasefire requires as a first step that Hamas stop firing rockets, which suggests that Israel’s recent operation in Gaza was highly effective in targeting key Hamas personnel and infrastructure.Of course the possibility of Abbas's Presidential Guard actually cutting down on weapons smuggling seems laughable, but putting Abbas's men in any position of control in that area cannot make Hamas look good.
Of course, the ceasefire won't make Israel look too good either, since all the talk accompanying the latest Israeli operation in Gaza--including allusions to a larger long-term operation to come--implied a plan for severely damaging Hamas. Yet, Trager writes:
Still, Israel has located an opening for slowly chipping away at Hamas’s domestic power, with Abbas able to declare victory for having brokered an agreement that finally opens the border crossings-an accomplishment that Hamas’s rockets have decisively failed to achieve.But how much of Abbas's victory counts as a victory for Israel, especially since Abbas has hinted at mending fences with Hamas, still does not talk like a peace partner--and besides: does anyone recall Abbas doing much to stop rockets being fired on Israel before he was ousted from Gaza? Just what do you think his men will do when they do intercept weapons?
Another thought: even with the recent comments from Abbas that indicate he is no peace partner, won't this new deal give Bush all the excuse he needs to go ahead with giving away more money to the PA?
Just what has Israel gained from this?
Crossposted on Soccer Dad
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