Jodi Rudoren Cease-Fire Extended, but Not on Hamas’s Terms. No one seems very happy about this agreement which seems vague on details. This agreement seems to be based on the idea of trying to spread "unhappiness around equally."
What an exciting capstone for a peace agreement, 'if we don't eventually deal with the real issues and root causes of the problems the violence will continue.' Here we see the core idea this treaty extension is based on, stalling for more time and allowing parties a face saving stand-down.
JERUSALEM — After 50 days of fighting that took some 2,200 lives, leveled large areas of the Gaza Strip and paralyzed Israel’s south for the summer, Israeli and Palestinian leaders reached an open-ended cease-fire agreement on Tuesday that promised only limited change to conditions in Gaza and left unresolved the broader issues underpinning the conflict. ...
Hamas’s call for a seaport and airport in Gaza, and Israel’s call for demilitarization of the coastal territory — along with an exchange of Israeli soldiers’ remains for Palestinians in Israeli prisons — were put off for discussion within a month if the truce holds. ...
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations welcomed the cease-fire but said in a statement, “The blockade of Gaza must end; Israel’s legitimate security concerns must be addressed.” He warned, “Any peace effort that does not tackle the root causes of the crisis will do little more than set the stage for the next cycle of violence.”
P.M. Netanyahu was prepared to declare victory and withdraw without an agreement rather than give Hamas apparent victories by relenting to international pressure to end to the blockade, allow for the construction of a seaport, and ease of restrictions on internal travel, all of which are gaining support in the international community, especially, the European Union.
Hamas' central demand for an end to the blockade and approval of a Seaport which has been gaining considerable support in Europe and international circles was not included but delayed for discussion in one month along with the tide of returning the allowing fishing area to 12 miles off the coast. Hamas also did not win an easing of travel restrictions in this agreement but has gained considerable sympathy from the international community for the legitimacy of this demand in a longer-term agreement.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is now saying Palestinians must receive "international guarantees for a clear deadline to end Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories, [and] bypass American-brokered peace talks," We learned last week Abbas was given tacit permission from the U.S. to use the threat of taking Israeli's leaders to the International Criminal Court as leverage in the negotiations as long as he doesn't actually sign the Rome Statue and join. Now that Hamas has signed the draft Palestinian Rome Statue and appears to be putting pressure on Abbas to sign, it will be interesting to see if he does. All of this discussion about the Palestinians joining the International Criminal Court may have been just a stage act for negotiating pressure. If so Abbas has not gained much for his restraint so far.
The U.S. has threatened that it President Mahmoud Abbas signs the Rome Statue enabling a war crimes case be filed against Israeli leaders the U.S. Congress will cut off all funds provided to the Palestinians. Members of Netanyahu's cabinet and negotiating team have threatened to annex East Jerusalem and the West Bank of Palestine joins the ICC.
Here we may see the meaning of delaying discussions for the Seaport, and ease of the blockade for one month.
One European proposal that has been floating around the last week has been that Abbas take over Gaza's internal security with assistance of an international force. Leaks indicated some Israeli leaders are concerned that this idea might spread to include the West Bank and East Jerusalem, giving Abbas an major victory of achieving an IDF withdrawal from occupied territories without a comprehensive peace treaty putting him in a much stronger negotiating position.
In Israel, support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s performance dropped by more than half this weekend from a high of more than eight in 10 Israeli Jews in the battle’s early days, according to polls conducted for Channel 2 News. Israel’s central bank cut interest rates on Monday to their lowest level ever to counter economic fallout, and Mr. Netanyahu has lashed out in recent days against senior ministers critical of the campaign, which commentators and politicians have increasingly argued was ill conceived.Prime Minister Netanyahu put himself in a "damned if you do, damned it you don't" situation. His right is frustrated and angry he did not act with greater aggressiveness, "wiping out Hamas once and or all, and sending Gazans a life long lession." Some critics on his left, and an increasing number of American supporters of Israel believe Netanyahu committed a strategic blunder by acting with excess force. Pictures of dead and wounded children in Gaza have disrupted Netanyahu supporters narrative that this story is primarily about Israel defending itself against Hamas terrorists. The "Israel is the victim of Gazan terrorism" story, has become difficult to sustain given the long series of horrifying pictures of "telegenic" dead Gazan children.
From many interpretation it might seem that the primary outcome Netanyahu has achieved with this last incursion has been to put the face of women and children on the people of Gaza, and make the Israel Defense Forces appear as they are the "storm-troopers in jackboots" suppressing and oppressing an occupied area and depriving the population of basic human rights such as food, water, electricity, freedom of movement, trade, and political self-determinism. American public opinion often favors the underdog.
In this battle of David and Goliath, Netanyahu painted himself and Israel as he Goliath.
During the last month and a half most mainstream newspaper changed their guidelines to describe "Hamas militants," rather the previous "Hamas terrorists," and one hears the occasional question "what is the difference between a freedom fighter and a terrorist." And, how can the democratically elected leadership of an occupied territory be labeled as terrorists - this seems to violate and strain the "official definition" which excludes governments, which can be lead by war criminals, but not terrorists.
So having what seems like a majority of mainstream media calling the Hamas fighters "militants" with a hint of "rebel forces" can be seen as a substantial gift from Netanyahu, who has achieved for Hamas, and even their military wing a boost to their level of "perceived relative credibility and legitimacy," that all the previous decades of Hamas leaders have not been able to achieve on their own in all the prior years combined.
I still remain hopeful that we can somehow get back to the idea of a peaceful two-state solution for both Israel and Palestine, however, most experts seem to have declared this option now dead after Netanyahu has categorically rejected the idea of an independent Palestine and vowed to never withdraw IDF troops from the Jordan valley.
But, what is the other option? What is Netanyahu's end came. Likud and other right-wing leaders have let the cat out of the bag that they hope to incrementally annex zones A and B of the West Bank and East Jerusalem leaving most Palestinians living on reservations the way the United States did to our native American Indians. In the age of internet we are seeing increasing evidence the world is not going to let this kind of injustice happen again.
We hear increasing talk of a one state solution, which I have to confess, I do not see how this would work, or meet the objectives of either side. It may take a while for the outlines of whatever "new" phase we are entering to emerge.
Let's be thankful, at least, for the apparent cessation of the violence for the moment, and hope this holds long enough for sides to make some progress in this deadlock.