A narrow, or partial, accord between Israel and Hamas was initialed in Cairo Monday, Aug. 18, at the end of a hard day of bargaining, according to sources in Cairo close to the negotiations. Israel has not confirmed this. The draft reportedly extended the latest ceasefire in the Gaza conflict, which was due to run out at midnight. Under the deal, Hamas agreed not to resume its rocket fire, while Egypt and Israel reportedly consented to reopen both their border crossings for the delivery to the Gaza Strip of a broad variety of humanitarian assistance. Issues of the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip and the disarming of Hamas, demanded by Israel, were left to a later stage of the negotiations.
debkafile’s sources report that the Israeli delegation flew out of Cairo for home Monday night after making it clear that Israel’s commitment to the accord’s provisions was subject to endorsement by Israel’s security-political cabinet.
Our sources add that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has postponed until Thursday, Aug. 21, his trip to Qatar for a discussion with Hamas political secretary Khaled Meshaal on how the PA and its security forces will start operating in the Gaza Strip, under the accords taking shape in Cairo for resolving the Gaza conflict. Abbas expects to return to Cairo Saturday with answers for President Abdel Fatteh El-Sisi.
In case Hamas decides to violate its latest truce commitment, Israeli armored forces massed on the Gaza border and neighboring communities were on high alert Monday ready for a tough reprisal. The rail link between Ashkelon and Sderot was suspended in case the train which is easily visible from Gaza was targeted.
debkafile reported earlier:
The Egyptian and Palestinian Authority delegations slapped down an ultimatum for Hamas when negotiations for a durable Gaza truce resumed in Cairo, Sunday, Aug. 17. debkafile’s intelligence report that Hamas was given the option of declaring a one-month extension of the five-day ceasefire which runs out Monday midnight, or else the announcement would be made from Ramallah Monday in the name of the Palestinian national unity government. This was the first joint action taken by the triple bloc formed by Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh El-Sisi, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for pushing the Islamist Hamas-Islamic Jihad duo up against a wall.
Their lineup, backed from the wings by Saudi King Abdullah and Russian President Vladimir Putin, set itself five objectives:
1. To confront Hamas with a solid political-security front which is beyond its power to break.
2. To corner Hamas into accepting the Egyptian ceasefire proposion unchanged and unconditionally.
3. To compel Hamas to disarm, i.e. dismantle its rockets and tunnels, so pulling the teeth of its military wing, Ezz e-Din al-Qassam.
4. To distance the Obama administration from the triple bloc’s dealings with the Palestinian Islamist factions.
5. To keep the Europeans from interfering in those dealings.
The foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany and Italy meeting in Brussels offered Friday to take charge of Gaza’s border crossings and work to prevent illegal arms flows.
Saturday, Cairo, Jerusalem and Ramallah politely informed Brussels that they preferred to handle this situation on their own and no European diplomatic or security assistance was needed.
The quiet shaping of this three-way alliance for resolving the Gaza conflict, by means of a sustainable cessation of hostilities, kept most of Israel’s and world media guessing, says debkafile. In the interests of tight secrecy, Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon chose to keep the rest of the cabinet in the dark as well, incurring loud complaints from ministers.
The proposition the three partners have formulated puts Hamas and Jihad on the spot. The Arab world has abandoned them and their only source of funding is Tehran. So their choices are grim: Face an escalated war that Israel will fight until the bitter end, or swallow hard and accept the only proposition on the table which is tantamount to disarmament and capitulation.
Their isolation is complete. The Egyptian, Israeli and Palestinian leaders have managed to cut Hamas away from any backing in Washington, Qatar and Turkey as well as blocking its path to Moscow.
To encourage Hamas to choose the right path, the Israel Air Force is cruising around-the-clock over Hamas bases and command centers in the Gaza Strip, ready at a signal to switch to the offensive if the Palestinian fundamentalists make the wrong choice in Cairo.
Mahmoud Abbas, who appeared to be sitting on the sidelines of the Gaza conflict during Israel’s month-long military operation, finally threw in his lot with Sisi and Netanyahu when it came to the crunch.
The tone of address adopted by Netanyahu at Sunday’s cabinet session was a pointer to the tough new mood prevailing in Jerusalem: “Hamas is mistaken if it thinks it can come out of a military defeat with a diplomatic victory… or that we lack the resolve and endurance for a drawn-out conflict,” he said..