Now available for mobile phones!

If you wish to view the blog on mobile phone, click here.

Would you like to comment on postings?
Join the Jewish Current Events page on Facebook.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

ANALYSIS: Cease-fire with Hamas would make PA irrelevant
By Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel Last update - 27/04/2008 Ha'Aretz

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' statement Friday in Washington that he had failed to move ahead negotiations with Israel after talks with President George W. Bush reveals how anxious the Fatah leadership is over a possible cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which would make the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank almost irrelevant.

While no apparent progress has been made between Israel and the PA on the final-status agreement, Hamas will have one of the most significant victories in its history, if not the most significant.

Palestinian public opinion may see the agreement, which lifts the blockade in exchange for a cessation of hostilities, as proof that only attacks and Qassam rockets can wrest concessions from Israel.

Palestinian and Egyptian sources say the cease-fire will initially apply to the Gaza Strip only, but six months later, if quiet prevails, it will expand to the West Bank, something the PA has failed to do for seven and a half years. Under those circumstances, who needs Abbas - they might really be able to start packing at the Muqata.

Hamas is also demanding that during the cease-fire in Gaza, Israel does not respond militarily there to attacks in the West Bank or within the Green Line. This is a stumbling block for Israel, which is concerned that the agreement will increase Hamas' motivation to carry out attacks in the West Bank.

Another weakness in the agreement is that it apparently does not include the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.

The head of Hamas' political wing in Damascus, Khaled Meshal, took pains yesterday in Qatar to explain that Hamas is not keen for the cease-fire to happen. But in reality, Hamas is very interested, so the economic blockade can be lifted and its position strengthened.

If Hamas fails this week in Cairo to persuade the other groups in Gaza to join it, its dilemma will be whether to restrain Islamic Jihad, or risk the collapse of the understandings with Egypt and Israel.

Without the other [Palestinian terrorist ] groups on board, Israel will discount the agreement. The murder Friday of two Israelis at the Nitzanei Shalom industrial zone near Tul Karm might be the first of a wave of terror by Islamic Jihad and other groups hoping to disrupt the calm in the Strip.