Hamas-Israel Truce Would Be “Painkiller, not Antibiotic”: Yaakov Lappin, BESA, Aug. 9, 2018— Intensive efforts are underway to reach a long-term, comprehensive truce arrangement between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Israel.
Was the Peace Process Doomed to Failure From the Start?: Charles Bybelezer, Media Line, Aug. 1, 2018— The international community spearheaded by its professional peace processors are feverishly working to prevent another full-blown war between Israel and Hamas.
The IOI — ‘If Only Israel’ — Syndrome: David Harris, Times of Israel, July 18, 2018 — IOI is the misguided notion, peddled in the name of Israel’s “best interests” by some in the diplomatic, academic, and media worlds, that if only Israel did this or that, peace with the Palestinians would be at hand.
US Peace Initiatives – Quo Vadis?: Yoram Ettinger, Jewish Press, July 17, 2018 — All US (Israel-Arab) peace initiatives, initiated by Democratic and Republican Presidents, aimed at advancing the cause of peace, while enhancing the US strategic stature. However, all failed on both accounts.
On Topic Links
Israelis and Palestinians Must Unite Against Shared Threat: Jason Greenblatt, CNN, Aug. 9, 2018
Where is Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan?: Michael Wilner, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 9, 2018
Does Trump’s ‘Ultimate Deal’ Reject PLO Propaganda?: David Singer, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 5, 2018
Philip Riteman, Holocaust Survivor Who Taught Canadians ‘It Is Better to Love Than to Hate,’ Dies at 96: Aly Thomson, National Post, Aug. 9, 2018
HAMAS-ISRAEL TRUCE WOULD BE “PAINKILLER, NOT ANTIBIOTIC”
BESA, Aug. 9, 2018
Intensive efforts are underway to reach a long-term, comprehensive truce arrangement between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Israel. Former members of the Israeli defense establishment have expressed skepticism that such a truce is feasible. In their view, a limited truce might be more realistic. Reaching a broad cease-fire arrangement would be “a very complex maneuver,” said Col. (res.) Dr. Shaul Shay, former deputy head of the National Security Council of Israel.
Egypt is leading the attempt, mediating talks and hosting senior Palestinian delegations in Cairo. A high-ranking UN coordinator in the region, Nickolay Mladenov, is also involved. Shay, who today serves as director of research at the Institute for Policy and Strategy (IPS) at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (IDC) in Israel, pointed out that a long-term arrangement for Gaza would be possible only if two components are put into place. The first is a reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas, and the second “is a period of calm between Hamas and the State of Israel. The two things are interlinked,” Shay said.
“In order to obtain a long-term period of calm, there needs to be major investment in the Gazan economy and infrastructure,” he went on. “That means bringing the Palestinian Authority (PA) to Gaza. Because this is a condition, it is very problematic. If you look back, ever since Hamas seized power in Gaza in 2007, there have been countless attempts, led by Egypt, to reach Palestinian national reconciliation.” None of them have succeeded, Shay pointed out.
Today, while Hamas has an interest in reaching reconciliation with its Palestinian rival, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has no similar sentiment. “Abbas is dragging his feet because he has no interest in promoting this procedure, which would give Hamas gains, but not the PA,” said Shay. “If internal Palestinian reconciliation is the condition for an Israel-Hamas arrangement, then very large question marks will remain over this.”
On the other hand, a more limited truce involving the end of Gazan border demonstrations – and the cessation of incendiary kite and balloon attacks from Gaza, which have burned large swaths of Israeli farmland, harmed wildlife, and affected Israel’s honey production before Rosh Hashanah – is feasible. In exchange, Shay said, Israel could reopen the Kerem Shalom border crossing, allowing more materials to flow into Gaza, and expand the fishing zone for Palestinian fishermen.
“The more limited the agreement, the more limited its ability to improve the Gazan economic situation,” he cautioned. Therefore, “it is like a painkiller, not an antibiotic. It does not significantly change the situation on the ground.” Any such arrangement should also include the return of the bodies of two IDF soldiers held by Hamas, Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin, who were killed in combat during the 2014 Gaza conflict, in addition to the return of two Israeli nationals being held captive by Hamas. “This must be a condition,” Shay said.
Echoing Shay’s assessment, Dr. Col. (res.) Moshe Elad, one of the designers of the security coordination between the IDF and the PA, said any attempt to reach a full agreement was very likely to end in failure. “There are a number of arenas involved; each is more complex than the other,” said Elad, currently a lecturer at Western Galilee College. Hamas and the PA have failed at all previous attempts to settle their differences, and “this time will be no different,” he said.
On the Israel-Hamas front, Israel will want “full quiet” as part of a large package deal. But “Hamas has never agreed to full quiet,” Elad noted. “I don’t remember it ever agreeing to this.” “There are smaller [armed] groups in Gaza that are known as the rebellious groups. The truth is, if Hamas wants to, it can rein them in. But the problem is that Hamas does not want to stop them. It wants to use them to threaten Israel. Israel will insist on full quiet. It will insist that not even a single shot is fired. Hamas won’t agree to that,” Elad said.
All the economic benefits being offered to Gaza as part of a package deal – an improvement in water and electricity supplies, the construction of a seaport, the cancellation of debts owed by the Hamas government, a relaxation of the Israeli security blockade – hinge on a PA-Hamas agreement, but Elad does not see “any intention” by the PA to agree to this since Abbas would emerge as “the main loser.” “What incentive does he have for it to succeed?” he asked.
At best, if Hamas finds its back to the wall, it might agree to freeze the activities of its military wing and place its members on leave, said Elad. “But they will never disband the military wing” as the PA has demanded. Doing so would symbolize “cancelling the resistance” from Hamas’s perspective, which would be unthinkable for the hardline Islamist organization. According to Elad, recriminations over “why this didn’t work out” will likely emerge within days.
WAS THE PEACE PROCESS DOOMED TO FAILURE FROM THE START?
Media Line, Aug. 1, 2018
The international community spearheaded by its professional peace processors are feverishly working to prevent another full-blown war between Israel and Hamas. As part of this effort, United Nations envoy Nickolay Mladenov has been conducting intensive shuttle diplomacy between Jerusalem, Gaza City and Cairo in a bid to forge a long-term ceasefire agreement.
According to media accounts, ideas being floated include the immediate cessation of hostilities, specifically the launching from the Gaza Strip into southern Israel of primitive incendiary objects and corresponding Israeli military strikes on Hamas assets; the complete re-opening of Israel’s Kerem Shalom border crossing, through which thousands of trucks of goods enter the Palestinian enclave; and expanding the fishing zone off Gaza’s coast.
This, within the broader context of major Gaza rehabilitation projects being dangled in front of Hamas. Concurrently, a parallel, although intersecting, initiative is underway to end the decade-long divide between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling Fatah faction and Hamas. Among the issues purportedly being negotiated are removing Ramallah’s sanctions on Gaza; restoring PA administrative rule over the Strip; and disarming Hamas. Essentially, these constitute the same terms of a failed intra-Palestinian reconciliation accord signed this past October in Cairo, and, beforehand, formed the basis of an original deal agreed to four years ago under the auspices of Qatar.
Meanwhile, it is business as usual in the Israeli political arena, with the Left promoting the unilateral removal of the blockade on Gaza without explaining why Hamas might subsequently be expected to reform itself; whereas, on the other end of the spectrum members of the Right are engaged in familiar one-upmanship, as Education Minister Naftali Bennet tries to outflank Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman attempts to outdo them both. This dynamic is comparable to that of 2014, when Bennett and Liberman pressured the premier to take a harder line on Hamas, effectively resulting in an Israeli ground incursion into Gaza during the 50-day conflict. One year later, Hamas had essentially reconstructed its war machine.
All of this comes on the backdrop of the Trump administration’s ongoing work on an Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal, dubbed the “deal of the century.” While the plan reportedly contains some “out-of-the-box” suggestions to resolve longstanding “final status” issues, the fact of the matter is that almost nobody believes that either side is in a position to deliver. Netanyahu is hamstrung by the make-up of his coalition and his own stringent demands on the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and future security arrangements that are anyways non-starters for the PA. For his part, Abbas is constrained by his regime’s indoctrination of the Palestinian public to oppose outright the notion of Jewish sovereignty.
In other words, then, it appears as though absolutely nothing new under the sun is being proposed along any of these three diplomatic tracks, thus begging the question: Has the process morphed into an end in itself, devoid of any realistic expectations of success?
In this respect, it seems increasingly unlikely that Mladenov and Co. will be able to prevent the next round of fighting in Gaza, which most maintain is inevitable for widely-cited reasons even though neither Israel nor Hamas wants any part of it. At the same time, it is unreasonable to assume that Abbas will suddenly accept responsibility for governing Gaza when Hamas still refuses to cede its weapons or allow PA security forces to deploy to the enclave.
Finally, in terms of forging a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace, it can only be viewed as a pipe-dream considering the above-mentioned, less complicated issues—which, for that matter, are integral components of a potential wider deal—remain unsettled. Notably, that the PA continues to boycott the US administration has conveniently been swept under the rug…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
THE IOI — ‘IF ONLY ISRAEL’ — SYNDROME
Times of Israel, July 18, 2018
IOI is the misguided notion, peddled in the name of Israel’s “best interests” by some in the diplomatic, academic, and media worlds, that if only Israel did this or that, peace with the Palestinians would be at hand. But since it doesn’t, then Israel constitutes the principal, perhaps the only, real obstacle to a new day in Israeli-Palestinian relations.
Striking, isn’t it? Poor Israel. If only it had the visual acuity of these “enlightened” souls, including, most recently, a slim majority of Irish senators, then all would be hunky-dory. After all, according to them, Israel holds all the cards, yet refuses to play them. The thinking goes: Why can’t those shortsighted Israelis figure out what needs to be done — it’s so obvious to us, isn’t it? — so the conflict can be brought to a screeching halt?
Thus, if only Israel reversed its settlements policy. If only Israel understood that Gaza’s tunnel-diggers and kite-flyers are just exercising their right of “peaceful protest.” If only the IDF restrained itself. If only Israel stopped assuming the worst about Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas. If only Israel went the extra mile with President Mahmoud Abbas. If only Israel got beyond its Holocaust trauma. If only Israel ______ — well, go ahead and fill in the blank.
The point is that for the IOI crowd, it essentially all comes down to Israel. And the IOI syndrome has only been strengthened by its adherents’ assessment of the current Israeli government, of course. After all, many media outlets, from the Associated Press to CBS News to Der Spiegel, branded Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “hardline” from the get-go. Their word choice simply reinforces the notion that the conflict is all about alleged Israeli intransigence, while generally avoiding any descriptive judgement of Abbas and his entourage.
At moments like this, it’s important to underscore a few basic points too often lost in the din. First, the Netanyahu government follows on the heels of three successive Israeli governments that sought to achieve peace based on a two-state settlement with the Palestinians — and failed. Each of those governments went far in attempting to strike a deal, but, ultimately, to no avail.
Prime Minister Ehud Barak, joined by President Bill Clinton, tried mightily to reach an agreement with PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat. As confirmed by Clinton himself, the answer was a thunderous rejection, accompanied by the launching of a deadly wave of terror attacks on Israel. And, not to be forgotten, a unilateral Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon also took place during the Barak era. It was met by the entrenchment of Hezbollah, committed to Israel’s destruction, in the vacated space.
Then, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon defied his own Likud Party — indeed, he left it to create a new political bloc — and faced down thousands of settlers and their supporters to leave Gaza entirely. It was the first chance ever for Gaza’s Arab residents to govern themselves. Had Gazans seized the opportunity in a responsible manner, they could have created unstoppable momentum for a second phase of significant withdrawal from the West Bank. Instead, Gaza quickly turned itself into a terrorist redoubt, realizing Israelis’ worst fears.
Finally, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, joined by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and urged on by Washington, pressed hard for a deal with the Palestinians on the West Bank. According to Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat, the Israeli offer “talked about Jerusalem and almost 100 percent of the West Bank.” Not only was the far-reaching offer not accepted, but there wasn’t even a counter-proposal from the Palestinian side.
Prime Minister Netanyahu inherited a situation in which: (a) Hamas holds the reins of power in Gaza, spends precious funds on digging tunnels to attack Israel, flies kites to set extensive fires in Israel, and teaches kids to aspire to “martyrdom”; (b) Hezbollah is continuing to gain strength in Lebanon, thanks to Iranian largesse, and has tens of thousands of missiles and rockets in its arsenal; (c) the Palestinian Authority has been AWOL from the negotiating table; and (d) Iran continues to call for Israel’s destruction, while enhancing its military capability, entrenching itself in Syria, and funding Hamas. So before Israel gets any further lectures on what needs to be done, perhaps we should take stock of what’s transpired — and why. There have been at least three bold Israeli efforts since 2000 to create a breakthrough — and three successive failures. And that’s not to mention Netanyahu’s ten-month settlement freeze and the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to seize this opportunity to break the stalemate.
The vast majority of Israelis yearn for peace and understand the considerable price the country will have to pay in territory and displaced population. Poll after poll proves their readiness, but only if they are assured that lasting peace, not new phases in the conflict, will be the outcome. Tellingly, few see that possibility on the horizon anytime soon. Israelis don’t have to be pushed, prodded, nudged, cajoled, or pressured to seek a comprehensive peace beyond the current treaties with Egypt and Jordan. More than any other nation on the planet, they have lived with the absence of peace for 70 years, and know full well the physical and psychological toll it has inflicted on the country. Rather, they must be convinced that the tangible rewards justify the immense risks for a small state in a tough area. Those rewards begin with its neighbors’ acceptance of Israel’s rightful place in the region as a Jewish and democratic state with secure and recognized borders. And that, far more than settlements, checkpoints, or any of the other items on the IOI bill of particulars, gets to the essence of the conflict.
The Gaza disengagement in 2005 demonstrated that settlements and checkpoints can be removed when the time comes. But unless and until the Palestinian side recognizes Israel’s legitimacy, and stops viewing the Jewish state as an “interloper” that can be defeated militarily or swamped by “refugees”— who are in most cases third- and fourth-generation descendants of the original refugees from a war started in 1948 by the Arab world — then whatever the IOI folks call for will inevitably be a secondary issue in the real world. Only when this recognition is reflected in Palestinian textbooks, where children have been taught for generations that Israelis are modern-day “Crusaders” to be driven out, can there be hope for a brighter future…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
US PEACE INITIATIVES – QUO VADIS?
Jewish Press, July 17, 2018
All US (Israel-Arab) peace initiatives, initiated by Democratic and Republican Presidents, aimed at advancing the cause of peace, while enhancing the US strategic stature. However, all failed on both accounts. The well-intentioned US peace initiatives were doomed to failure by the tendency to downplay the complex intra-Arab/Muslim Middle East reality, since they conflicted with the eagerness to advance peace ASAP, wishful-thinking and oversimplification.
US peace initiatives were the casualties of the inherent conflict between Western eagerness for quick-fix and short-term convenience, on the one hand, and the long-term and complicated nature of the intricate reality and national security, on the other hand. US peace initiatives were frustrated by the tectonic forces which have shaped the well-documented intra-Arab/Muslim labyrinth since the birth of Islam in the 7th century: explosive unpredictability, violence, intolerance (religiously, ethnically, politically and socially), absence of peaceful-coexistence domestically and regionally, minority/rogue regimes, disregard of civil liberties, brutal domestic fragmentation (tribally, ideologically and religiously) and the tenuous/provisional nature of regimes, policies and agreements.
Moreover, the US peace initiatives were further derailed by the politically-correct assumptions that the Arab-Israeli conflict has been “The Middle East Conflict” and that the Palestinian issue has been the crux of the Arab-Israeli conflict, a core-cause of Middle East turbulence and a crown-jewel of Arab policy-making. Such assumptions have been dashed against the rocks of Middle East reality, as highlighted by the 2010 eruption of the still-raging Arab Tsunami (erroneously named “the Arab Spring”), which has been totally unrelated to the dramatically less significant Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian issue. Furthermore, the preoccupation with the Palestinian issue – at a time when the Middle East and the US are confronted with significantly more pivotal national and homeland security challenges/threats – has damaged the US posture of deterrence and its regional and global standing.
All US peace initiatives attempted to force Israel into making major concessions to the Arab/Palestinian side, thus rewarding systematic Arab aggression, which encouraged further aggression. These initiatives exhibited the self-defeating moral equivalence between (Arab) aggressors and the intended (Israeli) victim; between the most effective, unconditional strategic ally of the US (Israel), and a close ally of enemies and rivals of the US, such as Nazi Germany, the USSR, the Ayatollahs, Saddam Hussein, Bin Laden, North Korea, Cuba and Venezuela (the Palestinians); and between the role model of counter-terrorism (Israel) and a role model and a major training ground of anti-US terrorists and a shrine of hate-education (the Palestinians).
The subversive and terroristic track record of the Palestinians, and their closest allies, sheds light on the inherent contradiction between the need to minimize Middle East instability and violence, on the one hand, and the attempt to establish a Palestinian state, on the other hand. US peace initiatives have forced the Palestinians, in particular, and the Arabs, in general, to outflank the (“infidel”) US from the maximalist/radical side, thus further intensifying conflict and disagreements. Contrary to the well-meant goal of the US peace initiatives, this added fuel – not water – to the fire, exacerbated instability and undermined US diplomatic and geo-strategic posture and interests. One may note that in spite of the US presidential recognition of the PLO, its support for the idea of a Palestinian state and sustained pressure on Israel to freeze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), the US has been systematically terrorized by Shite and Sunni Islamic terrorism…
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]
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On Topic Links
Israelis and Palestinians Must Unite Against Shared Threat: Jason Greenblatt, CNN, Aug. 9, 2018 —With the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, it is hard to imagine that deadly fires brought the two groups together — not once, but twice — in a display of shared humanity. Yet, in 2010 and again in 2016, Palestinians fought fires in northern Israel alongside their Israeli neighbors, saving lives and property.
Where is Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan?: Michael Wilner, Jerusalem Post, Aug. 9, 2018—US President Donald Trump’s plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace may be the most closely guarded policy secret in Washington these days, 18 months in the making and yet still known only to the small handful of men behind it. Senior administration officials describe the plan as detailed, pragmatic, and essentially complete. All that prevents them from publishing it is their sense that the timing is off.
Does Trump’s ‘Ultimate Deal’ Reject PLO Propaganda?: David Singer, Arutz Sheva, Aug. 5, 2018 —President Trump’s as-yet unannounced “ultimate deal” to resolve the Arab-Jewish conflict has received a setback following Saudi Arabia’s King Salman reassuring Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas that Saudi Arabia would oppose any Trump peace plan that did not accept the PLO stance on East Jerusalem becoming the capital of an independent Palestinian Arab state.
Philip Riteman, Holocaust Survivor Who Taught Canadians ‘It Is Better to Love Than to Hate,’ Dies at 96: Aly Thomson, National Post, Aug. 9, 2018—Holocaust survivor Philip Riteman, who spent 30 years speaking to young people about his experience in concentration camps and ardently urging love over hate, has died.