Thursday,25 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-
Thursday,25 April, 2019
Issue 1123, 22-28 November 2012-

Ahram Weekly

Cease-fire on paper

After four days of intense negotiations in Cairo, a cease-fire agreement was reached between Israel and Palestinian factions, Ahmed Eleiba reports

Al-Ahram Weekly

The cease-fire which ended a week-long clash between Israel and the Palestinian resistance group Hamas and which was reached Wednesday night was sealed by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, who had met with President Mohamed Morsi and Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also went on a shuttle tour for this purpose.

For the first time in the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, a cease-fire was mapped out in a document of two copies, one in Arabic signed by Hamas and the second in English signed by the Israeli side. Morsi signed both documents. According to several sources involved in the negotiations, the agreement was delayed for three days until Clinton arrived and put the final touches.


Ramadan Shalah, secretary-general of Islamic Jihad, asserted that “Washington had given Israel the green light to begin an assault on the Gaza Strip and delayed the deal until Clinton could arrive in the region and review the details.”


This is the first time in the history of Palestinian factions that they sign an agreement with Israel, and there were many questions about why this time there was a written document. While the factions believe they accomplished a victory in battle, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s government is being strongly criticised for not achieving its goal of reining in the resistance and destroying their strategic weapons stockpile. But Israel has always wanted to lure Hamas into signing a document with it.


A Hamas source who participated in the agreement said there was a need to write a document that the Egyptian presidency would sign, not the intelligence – the real heroes in reaching a final agreement. This document would ensure the cease-fire is observed by both sides, and put an end to Israel’s policy of targetted assassinations of political and security figures.


Israeli television broadcast a statement by Netanyahu saying that Cairo, the guarantor of the agreement, pledged to end the movement of weapons from Iran to the Gaza Strip. Egyptian sources confirmed the issue was discussed but the factions rejected it since Gaza is under occupation and entitled to resistance. The Israeli delegate to the talks in Cairo was informed that the parties were only committing to what was written in the deal and that verbal promises will be only considered.


After the deal was signed, Ziyad Nakhala, deputy secretary-general of Islamic Jihad, told Al-Ahram Weekly: “It is impossible that we give up Iranian assistance; all resistance factions know that their great victory is the result of this support.” Commenting on the special guarantees that Cairo committed itself to, Nakhala said: “The guarantees are the ones on paper in the deal that was signed with the Egyptians, and the Egyptians agreed to its mechanisms. We say to Israel: ‘If you come back, we will come back.’”


Politicians close to Fatah criticised the phrase “ending hostile action” refusing to equate “resistance” with “hostile”, as former Palestinian minister Hassan Asfour put it.


Meanwhile, lifting the siege was too vague and only referred to as “opening border crossings, facilitating the movement of people and goods, and not restricting the movement of residents.” It did not, however, directly refer to lifting the siege.


Nonetheless, chief of Hamas politburo Khaled Meshaal said in his speech after the signing that “we believe this is a step towards lifting the barricade for good”. He added that the deal included all the demands of Palestinian factions, especially the withdrawal of military vehicles from the border zone alongside the Gaza Strip. This is a one-kilometre-wide Israeli military zone that was leveled for military purposes and which should become a demilitarised buffer zone from which the Israeli army should withdraw from.

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