If this doesn’t take the cake for one of the strangest ceasefires ever negotiated I don’t know what does. Israel has negotiated a ceasefire with…no, not Hamas, but the U.S. Since both Israel and the U.S. pretend Hamas doesn’t exist they’ve left Egypt to negotiate with Hamas. So one party negotiates with the U.S., the other with Egypt, then Egypt sort of coordinates with Israel and the U.S. Is this strange or what? For the life of me, I can’t see what, why or how this ceasefire can work. But here’s the provisions as spelled out in a N.Y. Times report:
The cease-fire under discussion is more formal than the one that broke down late last month, when each side accused the other of failing to live up to its terms, and in some ways seems devised to overcome the last one’s weaknesses.
Unlike the last one, this will be written down, in Israel’s case, in the form of an agreement with Egypt and the understanding with the United States. Israel and Hamas do not speak officially but Egypt has been brokering terms between the two. Israel was unwilling to have an accord that might confer legitimacy on Hamas, which preaches Israel’s destruction.
The agreement hammered out in Washington would provide American technical assistance, as well as international monitors, to crack down on the tunnels. It would not, however, involve the deployment of American troops in the region. The composition of the monitoring force was not yet clear, a senior American official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The agreement stipulates that the United States would work to interdict weapons with its NATO partners, expanding significantly the responsibility to keep Hamas disarmed.
No mention in this report what Israel will do aside from ceasing killing of Gazans (for now). No word on when or if Israel will withdraw. Certainly not a peep out of lifting the siege (has v’halilah).
What has Hamas agreed to?
A senior Egyptian official said that Hamas was unhappy with Israel’s plan to leave its forces in Gaza during a short cease-fire, but that it had accepted the idea of placing the Palestinian Authority in charge of the border crossing into Egypt and the presence of European monitors there. It was unclear how the divisions within Hamas as well as within the Arab world would affect negotiations in the coming days.
As far as I’m concerned this is typical of the half-baked, half-assed efforts of the Bush-Rice team in brokering agreements between these parties. They have no juice with either one unless a particular side views it as in THEIR OWN interest in accept the terms offered. When the terms no longer suit them, they ignore the agreement. This has happened before with Rice-negotiated proposals between Israel and the Palestinians and will no doubt happen with this one.
I presume that Israel assumes that leaving its troops in Gaza indefinitely will motivate Hamas to cave to their terms for removing them. I’m not so sure. Anyone care to lay odds on whether this will work? And how long it will be before the next conflagration?
At least the 2006 Lebanon war ended through a UN-brokered ceasefire in which all parties coordinated through the UN. What overarching body will coordinate this mess of a ceasefire? If Israel or Hezbollah violate the Lebanese ceasefire they have to answer to the world community through the UN. Who will Hamas or Israel have to answer to? Condi Rice? She’ll be off playing piano recitals and long gone from Foggy Bottom.