Sunday, August 3, 2014

As Israel Slows Its Fire, Cairo Eyes New Peace Process – J.J. Goldberg –

As Israel Slows Its Fire, Cairo Eyes New Peace Process – J.J. Goldberg –
"...But if Israel wasn’t interested in deciding the next steps, it seemed as though everyone else in the neighborhood was. According to The Economist, the authoritative British newsweekly, Egypt is intent on using the talks in Cairo with the Palestinian delegation to begin setting rules for a new regime in Gaza that would address Israel’s security demands. The magazine reported that “mediators” — it didn’t say who — had set out four goals for the talks. The first is putting Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority in charge of Gaza, through the mechanism of the “reconciliation agreement” Abbas signed with Hamas in April. The second is reopening Gaza’s ports and border crossings to trade. Third, rebuilding Gaza, with money pledged several years ago by international donors but never delivered. Fourth, disarming the “armed Palestinian factions” — Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the smaller Al Qaeda-type groups running around the district — “under international monitors, who would also have to oversee the border crossings.” The article strangely made no mention of the international monitors’ sterling record in disarming Hezbollah after the Second Lebanon War. The magazine notes that Egypt and Israel both have “concerns” about putting Abbas’s troops in Gaza. Egypt worries that they won’t stand up to Hamas and will simply provide a “fig leaf.” Israel, for its part, worries that letting Abbas take over Gaza will pave the way for him to demand new negotiations for Palestinian statehood. Israel, The Economist reported, “wants to ensure Gaza’s demilitarisation as part of a ceasefire, not as part of a resumption of negotiations towards a two-state settlement.” At the same time, Walla’s well-connected military correspondent Amir Tibon reported Saturday night that renewed Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations might be on the way, like it or not. Netanyahu gave a nod during his Saturday night press conference to the de facto alliance that emerged during the crisis between Israel and the anti-Hamas Arab states of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the Gulf emirates other than Qatar. The allies, Tibon reported, are intent on seeing to it that Abbas takes effective control of Gaza and pushes Hamas to the margins. But their price will be new peace talks. Given the political risks their rulers took on their domestic fronts opposing Hamas despite the massive destruction Israel inflicted on Gaza, they will have to show that they got something for it. In a likely sign of Fatah thinking, Maan News, the independent Bethlehem news agency that’s close to Abbas, ran a prominent op-ed Friday by Palestinian-American journalist Daoud Kuttab calling for the “unification” of the West Bank and Gaza under a Palestinian unity government with Abbas firmly in charge."***

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