After several days of relative quiet in the Gaza belt Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas- via mediation by Egypt, the United Nations, and the United States- are again trying to negotiate a long-term truce which would restore the understandings reached after the 2014 summer-war.
The effort to reach an agreement is being led by the Egyptians who reportedly are trying to work out a new reconciliation deal between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority (PA) at the same time.
In October 2017, Hamas and the PA signed such an agreement in Cairo but the deal was never implemented because of ‘obstacles’.
Under the agreement, Hamas should have transferred control over the Gaza Strip to the PA on the first of December 2017 but after the terrorist organization refused to dissolve its military wing Izz-a-Din al-Qassam, named after a notorious anti-Semitic mass murderer, the deal was frozen.
According to Israel’s leading news show, Hadashot Kan PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas is reportedly trying to disrupt the Egyptian efforts to reach a reconciliation agreement with Hamas because he views it as a reward to Israel.
The government of President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi has invited Hamas and Fatah, the dominant faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, to Cairo for a new round of reconciliation talks but it remains unclear whether Abbas will accept the invitation.
The ailing PA-leader – he’s reportedly suffering from stomach cancer- will convene the Palestinian Central Council in Ramallah on Wednesday and he’s expected to deliver a speech on reconciliation with Hamas.
Au unnamed Hamas official told the Israeli paper Haaretz that “any agreement that excludes the Palestinian Authority from the decision-making mechanism will be very fragile because it won’t gain the PA’s cooperation, and that is liable to thwart any progress.”
It’s highly questionable the sides will reach an agreement, however.
First of all because Abbas’ position about an agreement with Israel and his demand that a future port in Gaza should be supervised by PA officials, not by Hamas.
Then there are the maximalist demands for a deal with Israel by Hamas.
The terrorist organization demands an end to what it calls “the Israeli blockade” of Gaza and won’t suffice with the re-opening of the Keren Shalom border crossing which was partly closed by Israel at the beginning of July.
Israel re-opened the crossing on Wednesday morning and again allowed commercial goods into the coastal enclave. The decision was taken by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and Gaby Eisenkot the IDF’s Chief of Staff after consultation with Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet.
Liberman told Israel’s army radio on Wednesday that the reason relatively quiet in south Israel was restored was the fact that Hamas has taken “significant hits” since it escalated its attacks on Israel last week when it fired hundreds of mortar shells and rockets at towns and communities in southern Israel.
He added that Israel would never enter in direct negotiations with Hamas and claimed the Gaza population has "much to gain when the citizens of Israel enjoy peace and security, and much to lose when quiet is disturbed."
"So long as there is quiet, Gaza's residents will benefit. If the violence returns, they will be the first ones to lose; this equation works. The last four days have been the quietest in the Gaza border communities since March," according to the Israeli DM who had said earlier a new war with Hamas was a “matter of when, not if.”
Another obstacle to a long-term agreement that would restore calm to southern Israel is Iran, which once again has become one of Hamas’ most important sponsors after Saleh al-Arouri, the deputy head of the political bureau of the Islamist organization, reached a reconciliation deal with the Islamic Republic in October 2017.
Iran wants Hamas to keep-up the pressure on Israel and expect the terrorist group to engage the Jewish state in a war of attrition in exchange for military training and aid by the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.
In Israel, there’s furthermore resistance against the truce by the families of slain IDF soldiers whose bodies are being held by Hamas since Operation Protective Edge in 2014 and by the Jewish Home ministers in the cabinet.
Leah and Simcha Goldin, the parents of fallen IDF soldier Hadar Goldin, harshly criticized Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu for allegedly failing to include the return of Israeli captives in the proposed deal.
"730 trucks will cross Kerem Shalom today on their way to Hamas in Gaza. Please ask Netanyahu and the security cabinet what Israel is receiving in return. Did they even request anything? #Returnthesons_first," the Goldins wrote.
Jewish Home head Naftali Bennet who is a member of the Israeli security cabinet also criticized the government for entering into negotiations with Hamas and called it a grave mistake.
He announced the Jewish Home ministers would vote against any ceasefire agreement with Hamas and charged it would turn Hamas into Hezbollah 2.
“This 'quiet' will give Hamas total immunity so that it can rearm itself with tens of thousands of rockets that will threaten all parts of the country," the education minister said while adding that Israel’s deterrent power will be harmed by the deal.