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The Israelis are buying time with a truce that has not yet been reached

September 6, 2018 at 2:33 pm

People gather to celebrate the signing of the reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah, signed in Cairo, on 12 October 2017 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

It is no longer a secret that the efforts of the local, regional and international parties to reach a truce between the resistance and Israel are declining. This absolves the latter of any commitments and promises made to the resistance through mediators and envoys.

This decline is contrary to what was the case a few weeks ago, when the talks reached a peak, and it seemed as if white smoke would appear in Cairo. Leaks were circulating about a truce being signed soon and the Gazans seeing positive results in terms of improvements in the catastrophic humanitarian situation. Then suddenly the talks reached an impasse, Gaza no longer witnessed envoys, their leaders no longer visited Cairo, and the truce no longer appeared in the newspaper headlines. What happened?

By quickly examining the positions of the parties involved in the truce, one can distribute the responsibilities to each one of them, starting with Egypt, which views itself as politically closer to Fatah than Hamas. The friendliness it is showing Gaza is no more than an obligation to serve its security interests, and therefore Egypt believes that there is nothing urgent forcing it to confront the Palestinian Authority for the sake of a truce in Gaza that accomplishes field achievements for Hamas.

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The United Nations, the main partner in the talks, is keen to keep itself a neutral intermediary between Hamas and Israel, although ultimately a party to the Quartet, which puts a lot of conditions on Hamas. However, it recently bypassed these conditions in light of the deteriorating situation in Gaza. Despite this, its envoy seemed to be more of a messenger between Gaza and Tel Aviv than a mediator that influences both sides and takes positions.

The Qataris see themselves as the funding body for any projects that may result in a truce. Rumours that seemed almost accurate were spread that they are willing to resolve the electricity problems in Gaza and pay the employees’ salaries, until they were vetoed by Ramallah, which prevented Qatar from interfering in these issues, and therefore Qatar has remained silent thus far.

The last party left is Israel, and the bottom line is that it was not in a hurry, since the beginning of the indirect talks with Hamas, and perhaps wanted to buy more time. I have warned against this, and perhaps Israel has succeeded in granting its students and the public a relaxing summer vacation without warning sirens and rockets.

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Today, after the truce talks were dissolved for the aforementioned reasons, talk in Israel and Gaza has become about renewing the 2014 understandings. Even this won’t be done easily and the path will not be paved given the positions of the aforementioned parties. This will make time put more and more pressure on the people of Gaza, without a glimmer of real hope that would give them the ability to face the harshness of the situation and the poor conditions.

This article first appeared in Arabic in Palinfo on 6 September 2018

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.