Gershon Baskin

The end of the ceasefire, the renewal of war and the end game

08.08.2014

Gershon Baskin. Photo: Otmar Steinbicker

It is clear to me that Hamas has no coherent exit strategy or end game. Many of the demands they placed on the table in Cairo had no chance of being accepted by Israel and Egypt. Hamas on one side, Israel and Egypt, on the other side are locked into a negotiation, at this point, that has little chance of being successful, which is why the ceasefire ended.

According to what I hear, there was even great frustration from the exaggerated Hamas demands within the Palestinian delegation, and delegation head Azzam al Ahmad almost left the talks. All Palestinians will support the Hamas demands, and they should. Who would not want a renewed airport in Gaza, or a sea port, or completely free movement of people and goods in and out of Gaza, or the safe passage from Gaza to the West Bank, or the end of Israeli control over Gaza's coastal waters, an end to all Israeli attacks on Gaza? The Egyptians told the Palestinian delegation that most of their demands relate to negotiations for peace between Palestine and Israel and not the conditions for a long term ceasefire. But is Hamas prepared to negotiate peace with Israel? God forbid. Hamas still wants to destroy Israel and expects Israel to give them the tools to achieve this goal. There will be changes in Israel's isolation of Gaza policy after the war, but they won't even get near to what Hamas is demanding.

Both Israel and Egypt have decided that any political "prizes" from the aftermath of this war must be accredited to Abu Mazen and not to Hamas. That must be a big one for Netanyahu to swallow, but even he has no choice if the end result of this war will not be empowered Hamas.

Hamas expert Shlomi Eldar says that Hamas's end game is solely its own survival as a political movement and as such, he claims Hamas is prepared to destroy all of Gaza for that purpose. I don't totally agree with Shlomi, although I greatly respect his opinion. I think that Hamas fighters are not afraid to die and are willing to fight until the very end. The Hamas political leaders though are a group of cowards criminal in their behavior who have the gall to emerge from their safe bunkers under ground and declare victory. Haniyeh was seen yesterday standing in front of rubble that had been someone's home with a big smile on his face. Those kind of leaders should face the trial of their own people when this is over and treated in the same way that Abed el Fatah a-Sisi dealt the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt who brought that country to near destruction. This is something that the Palestinian people will need to decide when the war is over. As a friend of Palestine, I hope that they do it.

Now, I return to what I have been saying from even before this horrible war began: there is only one solution to his which has a good outcome for all of the peoples engaged and most of the leaders as well - a political solution which deals with the security issues, the economic issues and the political issues. Palestine must be a free, economically viable state living in peace with its neighbors. A non-militarized Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza with its capital in Palestinian Jerusalem, with agreed security arrangements with Israel, negotiated and agreed borders, a fair agreed solution to the refugee problem, full mutual recognition of the two states for two peoples solution, with regional security accords, and recognition of Israel by its neighbors - this is the solution which must emerge from this war. It starts with Israeli acceptance of the Arab Peace Initiative as the basis of negotiations with the Palestinians and the Arab world.

This must become the new initiative for peace in the region. I call on Saudi Arabia which launched the Arab Peace Initiative to take the next step and lead us on the path to making it happen. A Saudi initiative in this direction would be so much more fruitful than another Kerry initiative. This is the way forward, and it can be done.

Gershon Baskin is the co-chairman of IPCRI, the Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a columnist for The Jerusalem Post and the initiator and negotiator of the secret back channel for the release of Gilad Schalit. His new book, Freeing Gilad: the Secret Back Channel, has been published by Kinneret Zmora Bitan in Hebrew.

Gershon Baskin ist Autor des Aachener Friedensmagazins www.aixpaix.de. Seine Beiträge finden Sie hier


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