Monday, January 5, 2009

In Short, Gaza Dunes Liable to Turn into Quagmire


"05/01/2009 Some Israeli General Staff members had hoped Tel Aviv would call off the ground incursion into Gaza if an appropriate exit plan was developed in time. That turned out to be a fruitless expectation.

International efforts to halt the Israeli war on Gaza sought new impetus after the UN Security Council failed to agree a statement on the aggression, with the United States giving strong backing to Israel and more time to achieve an accomplishment before diplomacy steps in .

Serious diplomatic activity on the Gaza situation are expected to begin Monday.....

France hopes Egypt can rekindle its role as a mediator between Israel and Hamas. Haaretz analyzed that “at this point, Egypt is expected to play an important role, despite the tensions between Cairo and Hamas. Egypt wants to see Hamas bleed before it gets fully into the role of mediator. Cairo is now waiting for a formal request by the Arab League before it intervenes.”

However, according to observers, Egypt has lost its leading role in the region because it was an accomplice in the blockade of Gaza along with Israel on the one hand, and because Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit had rushed to Turkey at the outset of the war to request Ankara begins mediation efforts over Gaza. Another indication that Egypt is retreating from its position as a leading Arab county was the call by Qatari Prince Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani to hold an urgent Arab summit over Gaza as he accused some Arab countries of foiling calls for UN Security Council action because of the lack of coordination of their positions.

Israel would like to see a diplomatic agreement bring the military operation in the Gaza Strip to an end - so long as the deal excludes Hamas, according to a decision made Sunday by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his Foreign and Defense ministers, Tzipi Livni and Ehud Barak. Israeli leadership will convey that message to visiting European statesmen Monday, stressing that an agreement on the Gaza Strip should include both regional and international components.

Israel's diplomatic strategy, according to Israeli analysts, is based on a conclusion that it will not seek a new cease-fire agreement with Hamas through the services of an external mediator, which decision makers believe only legitimizes the organization.
Israel will instead seek separate agreements with so called “moderate Arab states”, with the Palestinian Authority and with the international community. "The agreements will be with both the PA and Egypt and then if Hamas will not agree it will pay the price, mostly by even greater diplomatic isolation," a diplomatic source told Haaretz.

According to the daily Israel is seeking three agreements:
*On smuggling, a deal with Egypt, with American involvement, which already exists in the form of combat engineers working to uncover tunnels.

*On the crossings, Israel would like to bolster a 2005 agreement with the PA, Egypt, and the EU, that will restore use of the Rafah crossing and deployment of PA and EU officials that will oversee its operation.

*On a cease-fire, Israel would like to involve the U.S., France and moderate Arab countries, in a Security Council agreement that will grant Israel the right to respond to Hamas violations........

In the present situation in Gaza, Israel opposes a UN Security Council decision that would force a cease-fire - as did Resolution 1701, which put an end to the 2006 Israeli war on Lebanon. Israel is trying not to grant Hamas legitimacy by allowing it to be a signatory to any deal, and wants the Palestinian Authority to play the role of the Lebanese government in 1996 and represent the Palestinians...... "

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