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Why the Egyptian-Israel truce proposal falls on deaf ears

The cynical ‘ceasefire’ chorus being sung by Israel and Egypt is merely yet another movement in the well-orchestrated Israeli-Egyptian three-penny opera.

The way in which the ‘negotiations’ were carried out was more farce than finale – Egypt wrote the libretto for the Israeli impresario, leaving the Palestinians in the wings.

The terms themselves are a three-act charade. The Israeli-Egyptian duet omits any mention of the release of more than 50 Palestinian prisoners released in the 2011 Shalit swap who were re-detained during the recent West Bank ‘search’ for three missing Israeli settlers, a core Hamas demand.

Nor does it commit to either re-open the Rafah Crossing between Gaza and Egypt, or to lift the crippling – and illegal – Israeli siege of Gaza, merely saying that “crossings shall be opened and the movement of persons and goods through (them) shall be facilitated once the security situation becomes stable on the ground.” Both of these are core demands of the entire Palestinian resistance – Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP and everyone in between.

Any ceasefire that does not change the fundamental paradigm, a hermetically-sealed Gaza and a ‘normal Israel,’ will garner only encore after encore, as every previous performance has done.

Within three months of the 2012 ceasefire agreement, for instance, Israel had breached it 820 times. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights reported that just two mortar shells were fired from Gaza in the same period, causing little or no damage in Israel, and no Gazan rockets were fired. Not one.

With odds of 820 – 2, it is no surprise that the Palestinians are wary of being house-managed towards another tragedy – although that may well be the subtext for the entire production. Benjamin Netanyahu used the Palestinian rejection of the proposal to justify further aggression, saying at a press conference, “If Hamas continues to fire at Israel, Israel will have the international legitimacy to take action.”

International legitimacy is exactly what the repertoire demands – but it is not to be found through recourse to the Israeli arsenal.

Both parties can gain security through legitimacy – but this would of course require that Israel observe and comply with international law.

Palestinians have the same rights to security and self-determination within international law as do Israelis. Palestinians also have the right in international law to resist occupation.

The UN documents archive contains hundreds of clear resolutions as to what is required of Israel and of Palestine. What is missing is the implementation of the vast majority of them.

As the multitude of Israeli breaches of UN resolutions and instruments demonstrate, Israel is a rogue state, not acting in good faith.

This requires the international community to enter stage left, to enforce Israeli compliance with international norms, and to protect Palestinian rights, particularly from Israeli aggression.

The ‘legitimacy’ prompt would require Israelis to withdraw from all occupied territories, in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 242. United Nations Peace Keepers could be deployed to guarantee the security of Palestinians and Israelis alike, if the international community is serious about its commitment to both a lasting ceasefire, and equal enjoyment of rights and security.

Israelis must also sing from the same song-sheet as the rest of the world, and act in accordance with all of the UN covenants, conventions, treaties and other instruments to which it is signatory. A direct result of this would be the immediate lifting of the siege of Gaza, which has been determined to constitute collective punishment, thus a breach of the fourth Geneva Convention.

The fundamental problem with the Egyptian libretto is that it does not address the root cause of the conflict – Israeli abuses of international law.

No proposal that perpetuates illegitimacy, however long and loudly sung, can drown out the pure, simple and sustained note of justice denied.

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