Today, Israel and Hamas agreed to an Obama administration and Egypt-brokered ceasefire with the following conditions:
a. Israel shall stop all hostilities on the Gaza Strip land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals.
b. All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel, including rocket attacks, and attacks along the border.
c. Opening the crossings and facilitating the movement of people and transfer of goods, and refraining from restricting residents [sic] free movement, and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire.
d. Other matters as maybe [sic] requested shall be addressed.
2. Implementation Mechanism:
a. Setting up of the zero hour for the Ceasefire Understanding to enter into effect.
b. Egypt shall receive assurances from each party that the party commits to what was agreed upon.
c. Each party shall commit itself not to perform any acts that would breach this understanding. In case of any observations, Egypt – as the sponsor of this understanding – shall be informed to follow up.
Some sources report that Israel will ease the blockade on Gaza after a “brief cooling off period.” Other sources say that the blockade will continue unabated.
The agreement does not cover violence from the Palestinian Authority-controlled Judea and Samaria (West Bank), which may have been the source of today’s bus bombing in Tel Aviv. Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack; the Brigades are a wing of Fatah, which is the Palestinian Authority. Fatah and Hamas have agreed to act in coordination against Israel.
The Obama administration claimed credit for the ceasefire in unusual language:
The President expressed his appreciation for the Prime Minister’s efforts to work with the new Egyptian government to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and a more durable solution to this problem. The President commended the Prime Minister for agreeing to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal – which the President recommended the Prime Minister do – while reiterating that Israel maintains the right to defend itself …
The President said that he was committed to seeking additional funding for Iron Dome and other US-Israel missile defense programs.
It’s obvious from this language that the President leveraged Netanyahu into the ceasefire agreement. Not only does the statement emphasize that Obama told Netanyahu to agree to the ceasefire, it goes out of its way to link that with additional funding for Iron Dome and other missile defense programs.
Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor did say that Israel accomplished its goals in Operation Pillar of Defense: “We reached a ceasefire agreement within days. Now we have to see that things remain quiet … We still see Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority as the official voice of the Palestinian people.”
But the political effect of the ceasefire is to legitimize two groups: the current Egyptian regime, which is openly associated with Hamas, and Hamas itself, which attacked Israel with rockets over and over again, and now remains the power in the Gaza Strip with effective international approval.
Meanwhile, Iran, which has supplied weapons to Hamas, gets off scot free. And if Israel loosens the Gaza blockade in response to this ceasefire agreement, Hamas will have won a great victory by giving itself the ability to rearm via Turkey and Iran.
Another horrendous side-effect of the ceasefire is the incentivizing of the Palestinian Authority to unilaterally seek United Nations statehood recognition in violation of every existing agreement with Israel. Said Chief PLO Negotiator Saeb Erekat today:
President Abbas told Clinton that we have taken a decision [to go to the UN]. We are not interested in a confrontation with the US or any other country. We are practicing our right to establish a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with east Jerusalem as its capital. This will happen on November 29.
The Palestinian Authority feels the pressure to move this forward both because President Obama is president, and because Hamas has pushed itself forward as the dominant spokesgroup for the Palestinians.
This is a ceasefire, not a peace agreement. Israel’s statement acknowledged the possibility of future action:
(Netanyahu) spoke a short while ago with President Barack Obama and agreed to his recommendation to give the Egyptian cease-fire proposal a chance, and in this way provide an opportunity to stabilize the situation and calm it before any more forceful action would be necessary.
The ceasefire is supposed to go into effect at 9:00 p.m. tonight, Israel time. Meanwhile, the rockets keep flying from Gaza.