Friday, January 16, 2009

What If They Had A Ceasefire And Nobody Came? (Updated)

From an email I received via Bedein's mail list:

Philadelphia Bulletin
Israel Resource News Agency
Center for Near East Policy Research Ltd.

Jerusalem; Throughout the day on Thursday, and also on Thursday night, Israeli government TV and radio newsreels glorified Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmad Abu Al-Gheit for achieving a “cease fire” on Wednesday that Hamas has accepted, which also called for a withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza
However, a check with the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv reveals that Egypt has only elicited a Hamas offer of yet another Tahidia, a temporary halt in hostile activity which can be violated at any time - not a Sulch, the Arabic term for a total cessation of hostile activity.
Examples of a Tahadia would be the six month lull which occurred between June 19 and December 19, 2008, during which time the Hamas regime facilitated 415 attacks against Israel, with little or no Israeli response, and the previous lull which occurred between Nov. 26 2006 and May 15, 2007, during which time the Hamas regime facilitated 355 attacks against Israel, with little or no Israeli response
I'm wondering if anyone, especially the media, is aware of these distinctions--or even cares--of course not.

The next few hours will be decisive and we hope that there will be positive developments for a rapid ceasefire
Reuters gives the following as the main negotiating points:
- Hamas told Egypt it would agree to a year-long cease-fire that could be renewed after that. The cease-fire would be conditional on a full withdrawal of Israeli forces from the Gaza Strip five to seven days after an agreement is reached.

- Israel has responded by demanding an open-ended cease-fire, arguing that the time limits proposed by Hamas will only lead to future flare-ups in fighting. [At least Israel seems aware of the difference between Tahadiya and Sulch]
- Hamas has demanded Israel's immediate opening of all the Gaza Strip's border crossings, with both Israel and Egypt. The Islamist group called for Egypt and the international community to provide guarantees that Israel will keep the crossings open. [Israel instituted sanctions after the illegal coup in 2007 that brought Hamas to power--eliminating the sanctions give Hamas recognition]
- Hamas has baulked at returning control of the crossings to Western-backed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas under the terms of a U.S.-brokered agreement in 2005, when Israel pulled out its occupying force from Gaza after 38 years. That agreement gives no role at the crossings to Hamas.

- Hamas has also objected to the return of Abbas's presidential guard to the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

- Hamas said it was open to Turkish border monitors.

- Israel wants Hamas to accept the return of the Palestinian Authority to Gaza's border crossings. "It's clear that the basis for any movement on the issues of the crossings will be the 2005 agreement and it's clear Israel's partner in the agreement is the Palestinian Authority," a senior Israeli official said. [Return of the PA is the first step in phasing Hamas out]

- Israel is cool to the idea of firm international guarantees or monitoring that could limit its control over the Israeli side of the border crossings with Gaza.
- Hamas wants a reconstruction conference for the Gaza Strip and hopes to play a key role. [A key role such as getting their hands on the money]

- Israel and the United States want Abbas's Palestinian Authority to take the lead in any reconstruction, expected to cost more than $1.4 billion, according to preliminary Palestinian estimates.
Martin Kramer discusses how important those border crossings and the sanctions are to Israel and to phasing out Hamas.

Meanwhile, Ban Ki-Moon is holding out the carrot of a ceasefire:
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on Friday that a ceasefire in the war in the Gaza Strip was "very close."

"We're very close... (to) an agreement on a ceasefire. I sincerely hope that over the next couple of days we'll be able to agree a ceasefire," he said in the West Bank city of Ramallah after holding talks with Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad.
That would be the kind of carrot that could be used as a stick on Israel if Hamas's agreement to a Tahadiya are taken seriously by the International community.

UPDATE: Noah Pollak reacts to an article in about negotiations for a ceasefire and reacts:
Translation: Hamas comes away from the fight bloodied but able to declare — like Hezbollah — that it survived its encounter with the IDF, and in fact won important concessions.

In the coming months, images of the destruction the IDF has inflicted on Hamas will fade while the strategic fallout from the war comes into stark relief: Hamas will be able to say, with perfect credibility, that it continued firing rockets at Israel — many of them long-range Grads — throughout the war. Almost the entirety of Hamas’ top leadership survived, although the use of the word “survived” is inappropriate because Israel apparently made no attempt to eliminate them: they enjoyed the war from the comfort of bunkers under Shifa hospital in Gaza City, their location known the entire time to the IDF. Most damningly, Hamas’ central goals in the war — holding onto Gilad Shalit, lifting the Israeli blockade, and coercing Israeli and Egyptian acceptance of Hamas’ rule in Gaza — will have been accomplished.

I cannot recall any military power in human history prepared to make so many concessions to an enemy it has routed on the battlefield, or that suspends a military campaign in the midst of its success, rescuing a mortal and implacable enemy from defeat and humiliation. It is hard to envision how Israel will survive as a nation when its political leaders are more afraid of victory than of defeat.

It took real courage for Israel to go through with Operation Cast Lead.
It will take even more courage and strength not to give in on demands for a ceasefire that hand over a victory to Hamas.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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