World View: Egypt's Mohamed Morsi Big Winner in Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Agreement

This morning's key headlines from

  • Israel-Hamas agreement leaves many details unspecified
  • Islamic Jihad confirms that the Gaza missiles were supplied by iran
  • The winners: Mohamed Morsi, Khaled Meshaal; the losers: Mahmoud Abbas, Recep Tayyip Erdogan
  • Hamas celebrates Tel Aviv bus bombing
  • Turkey asks Nato for Patriot missiles for border with Syria

Israel-Hamas agreement leaves many details unspecified

Celebrations in Gaza over the cease fire agreement
Celebrations in Gaza over the cease fire agreement

There's a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the Egypt-brokered cease fire agreement signed by Israel and Hamas on Wednesday. The signed agreement is one page long, though there are apparently additional unstated agreements. As far as is known, here are the terms:

  • Both sides agree to halt all hostilities, with Israel desisting from incursions and targeting of individuals, while all Palestinian factions should cease rocket fire and cross-border attacks.
  • It says little about the Hamas demand to lift the blockade around Gaza. It calls for an easing of some restrictions on Gaza residents, but says that procedures for implementing them would be "dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire."
  • It says nothing about the Israeli demand that Iran not be allowed to re-arm Hamas with thousands of new missiles. However, there are unconfirmed reports that the United States and Egypt are somehow supposed to guarantee that missiles will flow into Gaza. How that might happen is completely unexplained.
  • Hamas is to enforce the ban on rocket fire into Israel, even by other jihadist militias operating within Gaza. Hamas have never succeeded in doing that before, so it's not clear how it will be done now.
Israeli forces and tanks have been camped on the border with Gaza for several days, prepared for a ground invasion, and they are remaining in place for the time being. Israel may reduce the size of the force in the next few days, depending on how things turn out.

There is considerable skepticism that the ceasefire will last long, but for the time being, everyone is pretending to be optimistic. Irish Times and LA Times

Islamic Jihad confirms that the Gaza missiles were supplied by Iran

Prior to the ceasefire, Islamic Jihad leader Ramadhan Abdallah Shalah confirmed that the missiles were supplied by Iran:

"With regard to the Iranian position – even if we have disagreements with Iran regarding the situation in Syria, I don’t think that we, as the Palestinian resistance, have disagreements with Iran regarding what is happening in Palestine, or regarding the Zionist aggression against the Gaza Strip. With regard to Palestine, we are in complete agreement with Iran. Iran has given us all the aid and all the support. The weapons that are fighting the Israeli aggression and arrogance in Palestine come mainly from Iran, as the entire world knows. This is no secret. These are either Iranian weapons or weapons financed by Iran."

Islamic Jihad Deputy Secretary-General Ziyad Nakhala said:

"We are on the brink of a great victory, Allah willing. This is a new stage in the conflict with the Zionist enterprise. ...

This wonderful weapon has proven its significant role in battle. The missiles have changed the balance of power, and have proven to Israel that we can shell their cities like they shell ours, and that we can shell their military camps like they shell our children. ...

These missiles have restored the honor of the Palestinian people. We received these missiles from our allies and brothers in the Islamic Republic. They have generally given us these missiles, exerting great effort. These missiles have changed the equation in this conflict."


The winners: Mohamed Morsi, Khaled Meshaal; the losers: Mahmoud Abbas, Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Egypt's president Mohamed Morsi emerged as the major winner in the negotiation that ended with a peace agreement between Israel and Hamas. Morsi was able to accomplish a lot more than the deposed president Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak never particularly liked Hamas, and he cooperated fully with Israel by keeping the border between Gaza and Egypt sealed. But Hamas was originally an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi is a leading member, and from the start of his presidency he made his sympathy for the Gazans clear. At the same time, he maintained friendly, if distant, relations with Israel, and adamantly refused to abrogate the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, despite some domestic demands that he do so.

Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a major loser in the negotiations. Erdogan strategy for several years has been to become the leader in the Sunni Arab world, regaining some of the prestige that Turkey once held as leader of the Ottoman Empire. Part of that strategy has been to end normal relations with Israel, but that strategy really backfired this past week, as it essentially disqualified him as a negotiator between Israel and Hamas.

Another major loser was Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas is nominally the major negotiating partner with Israel in negotiations for a two-state solution (Israel and Palestine) in the Mideast, and is currently scheduled to come to the United Nations General Assembly on November 29 to obtain recognition of a Palestinian state.

Instead, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has become something of a superstar, and was seen frequently on Wednesday declaring victory over Israel. Hamas has become "someone you can do business with." Washington Post

Hamas celebrates Tel Aviv bus bombing

Prior to the ceasefire announcement, a terrorist bomb exploded on a bus in Tel Aviv, injuring 23 people, one severely. Hamas did not take credit for the bombing, but said: "Hamas blesses the attack in Tel Aviv and sees it as a natural response to the Israeli Gaza." Jerusalem Post

Turkey asks Nato for Patriot missiles for border with Syria

Now that the Gaza problem has been "solved," it's time to start focusing again on the conflict in Syria.

Nato member Turkey has asked Nato to provide advanced Patriot missiles to be deployed on the border with Syria. Nato ambassadors met on Wednesday to discuss the request "without delay."

The Patriot missile system performs the same function as Israel's Iron Dome missile system in the Gaza war -- to intercept and knock down incoming missiles. The Patriot system can also target aircraft.

According to Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said:

"Such a deployment would augment Turkey’s air-defense capabilities to defend the population and territory of Turkey. It would contribute to the de-escalation of the crisis along NATO’s southeastern border."

The Patriot systems would not be supplied by Nato. They would be supplied by the individual Nato members that actually have these systems -- Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.S.

Since Turkey already has a big air force, it's not clear what's going on here. There have been stray mortar shells from Syria landing in Turkey the last few weeks, and several people have been killed, but Patriot missiles are not designed for stray mortar shells.

There are two possible purposes for these Patriot missiles. One is to help establish a no-fly zone over Syria. The other is for defense in case of a Syrian attack, especially with chemical weapons. Turkey says that neither of these is planned.

Whatever the intent, the introduction of a Patriot missile system signals an escalation of the Syrian conflict, and greater Nato involvement. Guardian (London) and BBC

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