Link Gaza ceasefire details to final peace push

The need for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza becomes more urgent every day. However, even after the guns and rockets– and Israel’s warplanes, naval guns, and precision-guided missiles– all fall silent, there will remain numerous very important details of the ceasefire agreement to be worked out.
These “modalities” constitute the difference between a “raw” ceasefire (the guns fall silent, but there is little assurance this will last) and a more robust ceasefire agreement. The modalities include items like:

    1. The precise plan for the withdrawal of the IDF troops currently on the ground in Gaza;
    2. The access agreements between Gaza and the outside world– including both immediate access for urgent humanitarian relief and longer-term access for the rebuilding, reconstruction and hopefully also economic development programs in Gaza;
    3. The need for arms control provisions;
    4. Monitoring mechanisms for the ceasefire and for the above three agreements that are credible, inclusive, effective, and therefore robust;
    5. Other items like the release of detainees related to the current fighting.

These are not easy items to reach agreement on quickly, even though Israel and Hamas have previously built up some level of trust and understanding around the June 2008 ceasefire. Negotiating these modalities must not stand in the way of concluding a speedy ceasefire. But we need to understand that one of the major reasons both sides continue to fight is because each wants to win the optimal terms regarding these modalities. (Another is that neither side wants to ‘back down’ first.)
However, looking at the above list of the ceasefire-related modalities that need to negotiated, it is clear that they provide a key segue between what needs to be done for this ceasefire and some of the continuing items on the final-peace agenda.
Besides, if a final peace agreement between Israel and all of its Arab neighbors is not secured well before the end of this year, then we can expect further extremely damaging crises in Gaza or elsewhere in the region at any time over the coming years.
The momentum of this crisis needs to be seized and exploited for a comprehensive final peace effort.
I was encouraged by the statements Obama made a number of times this week to the effect that he intends to start working for an inclusive final peace agreement “from Day One.”
Day One is now three days away. Even if there’s a “raw” ceasefire in Gaza before then, the modalities to make the ceasefire more robust will remain to be worked out. Obama should start spelling out the urgency– and the huge benefits– of a comprehensive final peace. From Day One.
(Note: Sorry that I earlier published two versions of this same post under different headlines. The vagaries of trying to blog while traveling… ~HC)

17 thoughts on “Link Gaza ceasefire details to final peace push”

  1. Who’s talking about an agreement? I thought the Israelis were planning simply to withdraw unilaterally.

  2. Certainly there’s a need for a comprehensive cease-fire, but it is doubtful that the US could be helpful in this regard. In fact the US has just snuggled up even closer to Israel with the signing of an MOU which starts off:
    “Recalling the steadfast commitment of the United States to Israel’s security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israel’s capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats;
    “Reaffirming that such commitment is reflected in the security, military and intelligence cooperation between the United States and Israel, the Strategic Dialogue between them, and the level and kind of assistance provided by the United States to Israel;”
    Obama has been silent on the MOU but he has shown no sympathy for Palestinians. Israeli officials believe that Hamas is delaying any cease-fire agreement for an Obama administration but that could be (and probably is) dis-information.
    news report:
    TEL AVIV — Israel’s intelligence community is projecting the Hamas regime may try to delay any ceasefire until Barack Obama is in the Oval Office.
    Government sources said Hamas’s military wing has been urged by Iran and Syria to delay implementation of any ceasefire proposal by Egypt for at least another week. The sources said Hamas’s military wing overruled a proposal by Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to accept the Egyptian offer.
    “Hamas has been told by Iran that they will get a better deal under Obama,” a government source said.///
    In the meantime I suppose there is always the possibility that Alex mentions, with the MOU as a safe-face cover and no comprehensive agreement.
    We tend to think the US is the main determinant in these matters, but we don’t know what Egypt, Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, among others, have in mind, and as I indicated above the US has been seriously compromised.

  3. CAIRO, Egypt, Jan 17 — Egypt’s president demanded Israel immediately end its military operations in the Gaza Strip and withdraw its forces, even as the Jewish State is contemplating a unilateral cease-fire that would keep its soldiers in Gaza. Hosni Mubarak’s call came the same day that Hamas leaders maintained that fighting with Israel would continue if their demands for an Israeli withdrawal were not met.
    “I demand Israel today to stop its military operations immediately. I demand from its leaders an immediate and unconditional ceasefire and I demand from them a full withdrawal of Israeli troops from the strip,” he said.
    Meanwhile there is an emergency summit in Qatar attended by Hamas and Iran (but boycotted by Egypt and Saudi Arabia therefore). The presidents of Syria and Lebanon are also in Doha. There will be another “summit” called in Egypt tomorrow which will probably include none of the main actors.
    So while Washington fiddles and holds Israel tight (I know) the Arabs (and Iran) are moving, which is one good aspect.

  4. It appears that Israel intends to welcome Obama with a clever diplomatic trap – a so-called “unilateral cease fire”. Since this would leave the IOF in place in Gaza, not open any crossings and allow the continued killing of Gazans by “self defense” measures of the IOF, Israel can be fairly certain that Hamas will not reciprocate. Israel will then tell the Obama administration and the world that “we tried to stop the fighting, but these terrorists are clearly intractable and must be eliminated.” They can then “regretfully” continue the slaughter.
    What response can Obama make to such a “gesture of good will?” Like any clever criminal, Israel will gradually and carefully suck in the administration until it reestablishes its dominance over US mideast policy. We can only hope that the incoming administration has seen this coming and has a plan to thwart the Israeli ambition.
    In any ceasefire the IOF must withdraw immediately and completely and the crossings must be opened. That is the only hope for a ceasefire to take hold. And guarantees of blocking Hamas rearming must be included too, useless as they may be, so Israel can save face. Perhaps even international troops to police the agreement by both sides could be a condition. Not only must the US pressure Israel, but it must pressure Egypt also.
    The US should pursue US interests, not Israeli or Egyptian ones. And there must be accountability for both Hamas and the IOF and Israeli politicians for the clear war crimes that were committed.

  5. Haaretz’ take on the Rice/Livni MoU.
    What seems to have become an ethical issue is the need that an administration that will no longer direct the affairs of the USA should desist from engaging in activities that would in any way impinge on an “incoming” administration decision making.
    Me thinks governing from the seat of one’s pants is a hazardous endeavor regardless whether its done by any of the two sexes.

  6. Question: is Israel required to make reparations in money and materials to rebuild the Gaza strip if and when a cease fire agreement is reached ?297470

  7. The moral equivalence that you place on Israel and Hamas immediately projects your hatred for Israel and the Jews. Israel obeys and are subject to all international laws of war. Hamas will always ONLY target civilians in its rocket attacks and rejects the international community. Jews left Gaza two years ago. The day they left the Gazians burned down the farms and greenhouses. The smoke polluted the environment that could have given them food and jobs to create a better life. There is not one Jew that lives in Gaza. Did this matter to Hamas. no. They continued shooting rockets as they have been for the last 8 years. The only thing they want is to kill all the Jews and impose Sharia law to rule like all the other Arab states. Maybe its the embargo? The embargo that Egypt and Israel have against Hamas is ONLY for weapons. They inspect everything that comes into Gaza. Unfortunately Egypt has not done a good enough job to stop the underground tunnels from bringing weapons. Palestinians are giving more money and supplies from the international world then any other group in the world. Why don’t we do something about Darfur, the genocide that is going on is horrific. Sorry to point it out but since Israels creation the Palestinian population as more then tripled. This is far from genocide. The Palestinians as it stands are better off as far as human rights then every Arab nation in the region except Jordan. The UN has stats for all this you do not have to take my word for it, look it up. Maybe once the world decides to stop given them “fish” they will learn to “fish” for themselves. I’m tired of this conflict. Peace is at hand, look at the Westbank, unemployment is down, they have passed a threshold in which people are finally seeing the light. Embrace the success. The day Hamas loves there children more then they hate Israel is the day that peace will happen. Until then we need to advocate the removal of Hamas so we can get someone else that wants peace.

  8. …one of the major reasons both sides continue to fight is because each wants to win the optimal terms regarding these modalities. (Another is that neither side wants to ‘back down’ first.)
    No doubt. But it seems to me that the Palestinians in Gaza really cannot stop fighting until Israel stops attacking them.

  9. As omop says, it looks like the Israeli plan is simply to declare a unilateral cease-fire, but to remain in place, and do nothing else, thus leaving the Gazans to starve, bottled up in Gaza City.
    Disgusting beyond words.
    But also not a stable situation, politically speaking. I am not talking about the the Qassams that will continue to be fired, and the inevitable Israeli reprisals, tagged as self-defence. Rather, it will be obvious that Israel stopped in order to spare the Obama inauguration, whatever they say. That will not play well. Did Israel really “win”, will be the question. Why was Hamas not eliminated? Of course we all know that Hamas could not be eliminated, but the question will remain in the air. And that will be damaging in Israel.
    Again, the pictures of dying Palestinians will continue to come out, though not covered in blood (obviously the latter is the other part of the point, after the Obama inauguration). Obama will continue to be shamed. Whatever one may feel about Obama’s policies, he wants his presidency to be a success. Allowing Gazans to starve in horrible conditions will taint his presidency. So I would think he will do something. That something will probably be to insist that Israeli ground troops withdraw over the border, nothing more.
    On another issue, I am particularly disgusted that ‘my’ Prime Minister, G. Brown, has offered the Royal Navy to help prevent smuggling through the tunnels. I didn’t know that he was capable of descending to such base behaviour. It’s as though he has no moral sense at all. If the offer is pursued, I would think it a mistake electorally speaking. Most members of the Labour Party have a moral sense. He is putting his re-election in danger

  10. The Apartheid Zionist Entity (or A.Z.E.) will soon hold elections. The candidate who most benefits politically from the recent savage campaign against captive Palestinian Arabs in Gaza will probably win. Not long afterwards, that winning candidate will travel to Washington, D.C. for a long-established ritual. Senator Holy Joe Lieberman (Independent, Tel Aviv) will invite the new A.Z.E. leader to address Congress after which highly putlicized love-fest the new American President will invite the new A.Z.E. leader to the White House where the new little tail will wag the new big dog so hard that the new big dog’s teeth will chatter uncontrollably for the remainder of his presidency.
    As for any “moral equivalence” that may exist between the Palestinian Arab victims and their Apartheid Zionist persecutors, it seems to me that the Apartheid Zionists (whether in the A.Z.E. or the U.S.A.) have a long slope to climb before they can speak coherently about “equivalence,” much less “morality.”
    My dictionary defines “Semite” as “one of a people of Caucasian stock, now represented by the Jews and Arabs [emphasis mine], but originally including the ancient Babylonians, Assyrians, Arameans, Phoenicians, etc.” As well, my dictionary includes in its definition of “Semitism” the phrase, “any political or economic policy favoring or thought to favor the Jews.”
    Therefore, I reject, a priori, the racist canard “anti-semite” frequently leveled at me by rabid apologists for the A.Z.E. on the grounds that I have nothing against Arabs or Jews in general. However, I do unapologetically subscribe to political “anti-semitism” in that — as an American — I oppose “any political or economic policy favoring or thought to favor the Jews.” The Constitution of the United States of America plainly prohibits the government from denying or bestowing citzen rights based upon either race or religion. So I must, as an American, oppose any public policy of my country that favors one self-identified race of people. I consider any such policy simply “un-American” — as a matter of Law, Politics, and Morality.

  11. Helena,
    3. The need for arms control provisions;
    There is a question here, why this been so important to control the follow of arms to Hamas while the state that doing and did the massacres have complete immunity fro justices by international community?
    Israelis imposing the siege and section on Gaza and prevented the international journalists from entering Gaza 18 months before they starting this insult on Gaza and they did refusing any independent journalists to enter Gaza.
    Helena, if you call for arm control and all the justices to be taken in conflict like this when the Palestine daily fighting refusing their land garb and humiliations by Israelis, this is not justice call at all. This give the aggressor all the rights to kill more and treat those human on their land in more aggressive way to reach her goals.
    Really If the international community and people like Helena interested for the justices for long lasting peace to settle for this conflict, then all should hold Israelis most to blame for their actions comparing with the amount of power and long aggression against humanism in Gaza and in occupied lands for the last 60 years.
    You should call and others who interested in justices that international and UN with what power it had to section Israelis for the crimes doing on the Palestinians land in name of their right of Promises land, while people defending themselves form an enemy who don not know mercy and inhuman were sanctioned for no reason because they elected Islamic “extremist” which their right to lead them.
    Helena you really need to revisit some of history of what said about this conflicts and what people in Gaza were suffering due to international section.

    let’s be honest (for once): The problem in the Middle East is not the Palestinian people, not Hamas, not the Arabs, not Hezbollah or the Iranians or the entire Muslim world. It’s us, the Israelis. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the single greatest cause of instability, extremism and violence in our region, is perhaps the simplest conflict in the world to resolve. For almost 20 years, since the PLO’s recognition of Israel within the 1949 Armistice Lines (the “Green Line” separating Israel from the West Bank and Gaza), every Palestinian leader, backed by large majorities of the Palestinian population, has presented Israel with a most generous offer: A Jewish state on 78% of Israel/Palestine in return for a Palestinian state on just 22% – the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. In fact, this is a proposition supported by a large majority of both the Palestinian and Israeli peoples. As reported in Ha’aretz (January 18, 2005):

    Some 63 percent of the Palestinians support the proposal that after the establishment of the state of Palestine and a solution to all the outstanding issues – including the refugees and Jerusalem – a declaration will be issued recognizing the state of Israel as the state of the Jewish people and the Palestinian state as the state of the Palestinian people…On the Israeli side, 70 percent supported the proposal for mutual recognition.


    I am an Israeli here in Gaza, we as Israelis have to start taking responsibilities for what we are doing. For the Israelis there is no occupation, so everything is terrorism from their point of view. What I am trying to say is: no, we have an occupation, we have siege, we have sanctions, we have closure and therefore, we are the strong party, we are the oppressors, the Palestinians aren’t occupying Tel Aviv. Therefore, it’s our responsibility to end the occupation and to bring an end to the conflict.

    Jeff Halper in Gaza: “We are the oppressors”

  12. Michael Murry’s note brings to memory the incident between De Gaulle and Dassault in 1960’s – Israel purchased french Mirage fighter planes, made by Dassault, and needed replacement jet engines from the French. But at that time France had put an embargo on the supply. Dassault was Jewish and intervened with De Gaulle who simply asked him “are you French?” Dassault went away empty handed.

  13. Health Situation Report in Gaza – 14 January, 2009

    This is the 14 January update on the health sector situation since Israel launched its military offensive in Gaza on 27 December.

    o On 13 Jan Israeli missiles destroyed the PHC clinic(for maternal and child health) of the Near EastCouncil of Churches in Al-Shuja’ia area.

    o 20 additional patients expected to be evacuatedvia Rafah.

    o Monitoring and surveillance of water quality has not been carried out since the central public health laboratory closed on 4 January due its proximity to open conflict area.

    o At least 35 520 people displaced in Gaza by crisis.

    o All hospitals have 8-12 hours partial power supply.

    o MSF Spain in Jerusalem and MSF Belgium in Rafah still waiting to enter Gaza.

    International Humanitarian Law requires all medical personnel and facilities be protected at all times, even during armed conflict. Attacks on them are grave violations of International

    Humanitarian and Human Rights laws. Access to heath is a fundamental human right.

    Is time to sanction this rough state in ME? Or sanctions just suite those state like Sudan, Iran, Mozambique, or Iraq?
    Where these voices telling its tragic and felling sad about it, what you done to sanction this rough state? Did you asked to stop those Billions of USD going supporting this rough state in this very hard economic cries?

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