The Gaza ceasefire was extended by an additional 24 hours last night, giving the various sides engaged in talks in Cairo just a little more time to hammer out a deal.
Judging by Palestinian sources, it is difficult to understand what is going on behind the scenes. And Israeli government sources are tight-lipped.
But, what is known is that Hamas’ 3,500 rocket attacks against Israel this summer have paid off, and the limited blockade of Gaza will be lifted. In addition, Gaza’s Mediterranean fishing zone will be extended to 12 miles.
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas is supposed to assume some form of control over Gaza, though it remains unlikely Hamas will voluntarily relinquish power. And all talk of demilitarizing the territory is off the table.
Sometime in the next four weeks, the sides will possibly begin discussing the construction of air and sea ports in Gaza, as demanded by Hamas.
All this has been portrayed by Hamas as a victory against Israel.
“Hamas’ leadership just convinced their population that without violence, nothing can be gained from Israel,” political commentator Raviv Drucker told Israel Radio. “Historically, Hamas has made all its gains against Israel through violence.”
In short, Israel has once again played right into the terrorists’ hands. Hamas has been politically strengthened, while Abbas has been weakened. And, if Israel is not careful, this whole cycle will repeat itself in the near future.
Even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s threats that should Hamas break the current ceasefire Israel will respond in force are not being taken seriously, not by many Israelis, anyway. Again, history shows that such threats from Jerusalem carry no water.
Ever since the so-called “Oslo Accords” were signed 20 years ago, Israel has warned that the Palestinians must not use violence as a means to gain concessions from Israel or create political breakthroughs. But that’s precisely what they’ve been doing all along, and are successfully doing again in Cairo at this very minute.