Friday, August 29, 2014

Israeli/Hamas Conflict: Update--If Hamas Has Not Formally Surrendered…What is the Point?

According to AFP, the prospects of a final deal on a long-term Gaza truce between Israel and Hamas were seen as unpredictable on Friday (August 29), after its leader ruled out Israeli demands to disarm Hamas.
Israel has consistently linked the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, devastated during its 50-day war with Hamas that ended last Tuesday (August 19), to the territory's demilitarization.
"The weapons of the resistance are sacred and we will not accept that they be on the agenda" of future negotiations with Israel, the exiled Meshaal told a news conference on Thursday (August 28) in Doha.
"It has become abundantly clear that unless Hamas is disarmed and its tools of control removed, there can be no peace and security for either Israelis or Palestinians," Israel's Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman warned, quoted on his ministry's website.
France's President François Hollande also backs the disarmament of the coastal strip where Hamas is de facto ruler.
"Gaza can no longer be an army base for Hamas, or an open-air prison for its inhabitants. One should move towards a progressive lifting of the blockade and the demilitarization of the territory," he told French diplomats on Thursday.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is claiming victory over Hamas.

COMMENT: If Hamas has not surrendered and wishes to retain its weapons, why even go through the motions of a cease-fire that has an unlikely prognosis to fail?

If Hamas continues with its efforts to annihilate the Jewish state, a cease-fire will only prolong the conflict.

Perhaps it is reasonable that warfare continue until Hamas is forced into surrendering and giving up its weapons as a condition of a formal surrendering ceremony.

Yet, talks on crunch issues such as Hamas's demands for a port and an airport and the release of prisoners, as well as Israel's calls to disarm militant groups, have been put on hold until negotiators return to Cairo within a month.

The seven-week conflict claimed the lives of at least 2,140 Palestinians, more than 70% of them civilians according to the United Nations, and 65 soldiers and six civilians on the Israeli side.

Political analyst Shimon Shiffer, writing in top-selling newspaper YEDIOT AHARONOT, said Israeli hopes that Western-backed Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas could carve out a strong role in post-war Gaza were unlikely to be fulfilled. 

A poll published Friday in Israel's MAARIV newspaper indicated that 58% of Jewish Israelis regard the current open-ended cease-fire as a mistake.

Only 33% believe it would help bring about a negotiated Gaza settlement, in the poll, for which the number of respondents and margin of error were not given.

"Hamas did not surrender," it wrote. "To deny it any motivation to fire again...Israel should combine carrots and sticks."

"It should be generous in opening the crossings and the passage for goods so that it will be clear to Hamas what it stands to lose, and it should be clear about the immediate meaning of the violation of the ceasefire--a return to warfare."