by Dish Staff
J.J. Goldberg passes along news from the Israeli press that Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have come close to reaching an agreement on a long-term Gaza ceasefire during Egyptian-brokered talks in Cairo. He relays the reported terms of the agreement: on the Israeli side, these include a halt to hostilities, Israeli control over border crossings between Gaza and Israel, and PA control over payments to public workers in Gaza. The Palestinian delegation is demanding an expansion of the coastal waters open to Gaza fishermen, the opening of the Rafah crossing into Egypt, and an expansion of amount and variety of goods Israel transports into Gaza. Other demands appear to have been set aside for the time being:
The Palestinians have agreed to drop for now their demands for a Gaza seaport and reopening of the Dahaniya airport in Gaza. Israel and Egypt had opposed the opening of a Gaza seaport out of fear that Hamas would use it to import weapons. Israel’s position is that it will not agree to opening a Gaza seaport until agreement has been reached on a verifiable, enforceable disarmament of Hamas and demilitarization of Gaza.
For the present, Israel is said to have dropped its demand for demilitarization of Gaza. There was never any chance that Hamas would agree to it, and as such it would require a complete reconquest of Gaza and defeat of Hamas. That, as the heads of the Israel Defense Forces warned the cabinet last week, would require a massive operation that would devastate Gaza and lead to Israel’s complete isolation internationally.
Yishai Schwartz expects these negotiations to come to nothing and the war to end in a stalemate, as neither party is willing to compromise much:
Given the incompatibility of the sides’ respective goals, it’s clear that negotiations are a bit of a farce. In the short term, Hamas seeks an arrangement that expands its legitimacy at the expense of the Palestinian Authority; Israel seeks to weaken Hamas and enhance the authority of the Palestinian Authority. Hamas seeks rearmament; Israel seeks demilitarization. In the long term, Hamas seeks Israel’s dissolution and replacement with an Islamist state. Israel seeks a reliable normalcy for its citizens, and is currently deeply divided over whether it wants, needs, or can even afford the creation of a Palestinian State. These objectives are simply not reconcilable. …
Instead, both sides will likely resign themselves to some sort of renewed modus vivendi that is only slightly less terrible than the status quo. Israel and Hamas will agree to a partial weakening of the blockade in exchange for a nominal effort at demilitarization.
In the meantime, activists are organizing another flotilla of boats to run the Gaza blockade. Dish alum Katie Zavadski can guess how that will turn out:
Like the one in 2010, this flotilla will come from the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, a Turkish NGO, complete with very concerned activists from 12 countries. The group, part of the Freedom Flotilla Coalition (which describes itself as “a grassroots people-to-people solidarity movement composed of campaigns and initiatives from all over the world working together to end the siege of Gaza”), told Reuters that this is being organized “in the shadow of the latest Israeli aggression on Gaza.”
Of course, since the seven-plus-year blockade of Gaza is a handy bargaining chip for Israel, we can already tell you how this will likely go: Tensions will flare as the ship(s) near Gaza, refusing to be inspected by Israeli forces. Eventually, the IDF will raid them. There may be casualties. And inevitably, the “humanitarian mission” will set back peace talks even further because this will be touted as another show of Israeli aggression.