Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Talking Peace, Preparing for War

Eliezer Shulman

Will Israel recognize Hamas rule in return for long-term cease-fire?

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

 Mishpacha image

Leah and Simcha Goldin, parents of late Israeli soldier Hadar Goldin, and Zehava Shaul, mother of late Israeli soldier Oron Shaul at a press conference outside the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem, August 5, 2018, ahead of the cabinet meeting. (Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

While on the Israeli side of the border smoke rises from fields lit aflame by burning kites, a different sort of smoke is emanating from Gaza — a diplomatic smokescreen that may indicate Israel, Hamas, and Egypt are coming to a general understanding on a cease-fire. 

On the agenda are two proposals — one from Egypt and the other crafted by UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nickolay Mladenov.

The Egyptian proposal makes an inter-Palestinian truce between Hamas and Fatah the top priority, followed by exchanges of prisoners and captives — including the bodies of Israel soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin Hy”d — and then an agreement for a long-term cease-fire. At a later date, a Palestinian unity government would be established to prepare for elections.

Mladenov’s proposal prioritizes relief for Gaza’s economy, followed by an exchange of prisoners and captives. Under Mladenov’s plan, Israel would allow more goods to enter the Gaza Strip, infuse half a billion dollars to develop the Strip, build desalination and electricity plants, and provide more work permits for Gaza residents.

The two proposals don’t essentially contradict one another, and the Hamas leadership is co-opting principles that appear in both plans. As usual, the devil is in the details. Hamas opposes linking the economic agreements and the cease-fire with the return of captives, bodies, and Palestinian prisoners. It believes those are separate issues that require separate discussions. It is also unclear which country would provide funding for the economic development plan, especially as the Egyptians object to the Qataris playing a leading role.

Egypt is further demanding that the Palestinian Authority hasten the rapprochement process, but Mahmoud Abbas presented a list of 14 reservations that might prevent that from happening. Abbas recently appointed Nabil Abu Rudeineh as deputy prime minister, and Hamas sees this as an indication of Abbas’s opposition to a new unity government. Without a unity government, no rapprochement is possible under the Egyptian plan.

On the other hand, Egypt’s recent decision to open the Rafiach crossing in the absence of an agreement with the PA indicates that Cairo is ready to work independently with Hamas, even if that means the Palestinian movement will continued to be split between Hamas and Fatah. Likewise, Israel’s silence after Egypt opened the crossing (while Israel kept the Kerem Shalom Crossing closed) makes it clear that Jerusalem, like Cairo, may not see the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation as a fundamental condition to opening crossings or lifting the blockade.

Moreover, it appears the split between Fatah and Hamas may actually be playing into Israel’s hands, as it can then conduct purely technical military talks with Hamas without paying a diplomatic price for concessions to the terror group. This assessment is reinforced by the active involvement of Mladenov in the three-way negotiations. In the past, Israel vehemently opposed not only mediation initiatives with Hamas (except when dealing with prisoners and captives), but also meetings between senior international representatives and Hamas officials. Israel has demanded in the past that the PA be the exclusive address for conducting Gaza affairs. Now, not only is Israel encouraging Mladenov, it is using him to present its positions.

This policy indicates that Israel might agree to treat Hamas as the legitimate representative in Gaza, should any new economic and administrative agreements be reached. That would mark a significant turn in relations between Israel and Hamas. Under this sort of agreement, Israel would allow Hamas to conduct trade with manufacturers in Israel and Yehudah and Shomron, and to redefine the framework of the blockade. Israel would also have to accept the possibility that a future Hamas and Fatah government would receive international legitimacy.

At a meeting of the security cabinet on Sunday, Chief of General Staff Gadi Eizenkot told the ministers there was a minimal chance of reaching a long-term agreement in Gaza. Many obstacles that remain, chief among them lack of rapprochement on the Palestinian side. Israel further understands that if Hamas does not achieve a substantial result at the negotiating table, it will be ready to go to war. “The IDF is prepared for any scenario,” Eizenkot told the ministers. (Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 722)

Related Stories

Burning the Candle at Both Ends

Eliezer Shulman

Deterred by Iran, frustrated by Hamas. Ministers speak about Israel’s strategic quandary

Still Giving Peace a Chance

Omri Nahmias

“Ultimate deal” still alive, but will it see the light of day?

Druze Protest Nation State Law

Eliezer Shulman

Wahib Habish, Druze head of Yarka city council in northern Israel, explains his community’s vocifero...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
When the Fog Lifts
Rabbi Moshe Grylak In retrospect, we will understand everything
Coming Full Circle
Yonoson Rosenblum A final goodbye to my special father-in-law
Right Turns Left
Eytan Kobre Conservatives can no longer speak their minds
Searching for Olam Haba at Disney World
Rabbi Elchonon Zohn A distorted and perverted view of life and the afterlife
5 Out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Shabbos Dips
10 Questions for Eli Samuel
Rachel Bachrach “SafeTelecom really is the refuah before the makkah”
Work/Life Solutions with Fran Jakubowicz
Moe Mernick “I turn to daas Torah whenever I encounter a gray area”
A Debt of Gratitude
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman If Ina Perlmuter believed in me, others would follow
Gemara Detective
Jacob L. Freedman “Tell me a bit about the bochur behind the medication”
Tidal Waves
Riki Goldstein “Holding Back the Tide” is comforting on so many levels
Ari's Picture of Redemption
Riki Goldstein Ari Fuld’s incredible photo gives a visual to this song
Not Just for Kids Who Love Music
Riki Goldstein “Every Yiddishe kid is essentially a part of Yingerlach”
Dream Duet
Riki Goldstein “He’s been my singing idol since I was a little kid”
Nix the Nickname
Faigy Peritzman A name is so much more than a name
Do Your Homework
Sarah Chana Radcliffe What are you teaching your kids during homework time?
Day of Confinement
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz If Asarah B’Teves isn’t a day of destruction, why fast?