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What does Israeli 'acceptance' of ceasefire really mean?

The Israeli cabinet voted to accept an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire Tuesday morning. Hamas, who was not consulted, is in direct discussions with Cairo but has criticized the initial proposal. What does all this mean?

1) Israel is willing to return to the status quo, a status quo that serves Israeli interests. Sure there is occasional rocket fire from Gaza but Israel has the Iron Dome and, in the sparsely populated south of the country, the rockets usually fall in open spaces. The occasional rocket from Gaza actually helps Israeli hawks strengthen their case for continuing the “occupation” of the West Bank (an “occupation” that, in the wake of Netanyahu’s recent remarks, should be understood as a de facto annexation). The Israeli right points to the rockets from Gaza and says, “Look, we withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and all we got is rocket fire!”

Returning to the status quo also means that Israel strikes Gaza from time to time and kills Palestinian civilians there and in the West Bank without garnering much scrutiny from the international media and, by extension, the international community. Returning to the status quo would also mean an end to the immediate damage to Israel’s image caused by the horrific photos and footage coming out of Gaza, and global protests against what Israel calls “Operation Protective Edge.”

Hussam Shamdi sits on an missile which did not explode from the air strike which destroyed his home the day before, in Tel al-Hawa neighbourhood of Gaza City, July 14, 2014. (photo: ActiveStills)

Hussam Shamdi sits on an unexploded missile from an Israeli air strike, which destroyed his home the day before, in the Tel al-Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City, July 14, 2014. (photo: ActiveStills)

2) Accepting the ceasefire, as Israeli officials admit, gives Israel the green light to “defend” itself with even more force than it’s using now. Just a few hours ago the Israeli cabinet voted to accept the proposed ceasefire. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked at a press conference, “If Hamas continues to fire at Israel, Israel will have the international legitimacy to take action.”

But how can Hamas possibly accept a ceasefire it wasn’t consulted on and especially one that would mean a return to the status quo, including the blockade that the United Nations calls “collective punishment“? Hamas’ terms for a ceasefire are reasonable: that Israel lifts the blockade of the Gaza Strip; that Israel ends aggression in the Occupied Territories; and that Israel releases Palestinian prisoners, many of who were released in the Shalit deal and re-arrested in the West Bank during the so-called “Operation Brothers’ Keeper.”

Instead, the ceasefire proposes to hold indirect negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian parties to arrive at a “final truce,” as the WSJ puts it.

But as Khaled al-Batch, an Islamic Jihad leader, was quoted in Al Jazeera:

It is not acceptable to start observing a ceasefire for short term then negotiate the terms. We have experienced this in the past and it has failed.

What is needed now is to agree on the demands of the Palestinian people, chiefly ending the siege and opening the border corsing [sic], then a zero hour can be agreed upon. Otherwise, history will repeat itself, period.

Or as the armed wing of Hamas, Al Qassam Brigades, remarked about the proposed ceasefire: “For us, it is not worth the ink that wrote it.”

Israel’s “acceptance” of the ceasefire – a ceasefire that Hamas wasn’t consulted on and, accordingly, does not meet Hamas’ terms – really isn’t an acceptance at all. As many observers were quick to say, it’s a public relations move. It could also be understood as an attempt to  pave the way for a ground invasion.

The occupation will last forever, Netanyahu clarifies
The unfolding lie of Operation Protective Edge
The abnormal normality of the occupation

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    1. jopoes shull

      ‘a ceasefire that Hamas wasn’t consulted on and, accordingly,does not meet Hamas’ terms’?? Hamas is a terrorist organisation whose stated aim is to annihilate Israel, so who gives a damn what their terms are?

      Reply to Comment
      • firas

        If Hamas who defending there lives is a terrorist. What that makes the zionists?

        Reply to Comment
    2. Arb

      Hamas demands are reasonable? In what universe? With the blockade they’ve still managed to expand their arsenal and improve it considerably and build massive tunnels into Israel. Without a blockade, they will be able to do far worse.

      Also, the status quo doesn’t serve Hamas only because they angered their patrons, the Egytians, so much. Otherwise, how does a cease fire not serve them?

      Finally, the notion that they cannot stop firing rockets at civilians – each and every one a war crime which you are defending – in order to sit down for talks is such an idiotic claim that it’s unbelievable you’re actually making it.

      Apparently you want war and apparently you like it when Palestinians get killed by IDF operations. It gives you fodder for your propaganda. Why else would you oppose a cease fire that would lead to talks?

      This article encapsulates 972mag perfectly. It’s one thing to have sympathy for the Palestinians, but it’s another thing to actually excuse their violence.

      Reply to Comment
      • Alvin Góngora

        If Hamas have been able to amass an arsenal, tunnel network included, then what is the point of imposing a blockade?

        Reply to Comment
        • Arb

          The point of imposing the blockade is to prevent the arsenal being acquired from being 10 times bigger and more dangerous. It also presents hardships with tunnel construction that minimizes the number of tunnels built – at least into the Israeli side.

          Reply to Comment
      • Felix Reichert

        If you lift the blockade they will be compelled to NOT do “far worse”, because otherwise the Blockade would be reinstated immediatly.

        Also, what does “far worse” mean? Keeping the truce until Israel unilaterally breaks it with most likely false pretenses?

        Reply to Comment
    3. Adam

      Bravo Arb! My feelings exactly. We needed to stop the shooting first. Unfortunately Hamas figured it had more to gain by gaining more martyrs and media sympathy then agreeing to a cease fire to stop the killing of its own people.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Andre

      Can anyone confirm if all of Hamas leaders are indeed in Gaza or in Qatar, as is circulating online lately? Photo of them on a private jet en route for Qatar. If so, then there is no trust whatsoever that can be put in their words, and their intentions should be scrutinized. Rather, their words are for their own people to die (death and martyrdom) while they live. We don’t understand this type of leaders.

      Also, there was a cease-fire negotiated – it’s a cease-fire, not a peace treaty or act of surrender. Why can’t they say : “OK, we need to stop the destruction, so let’s see what you are talking about.” Then read the proposal, and then while protecting your people from death (well…) you look at the demands. What Hamas is asking is unreasonable and foreign to good will and rationale.

      From a distance…

      Reply to Comment
    5. Hi

      972mag is antisemitic garbage.

      972 isn’t merely “criticism” of Israel.

      The articles on this absurd gutter of a website are so dishonestly swayed against Israel that the only people who could write such garbage are either mentally ill, or antisemitic.

      Reply to Comment
      • Amir

        Anything that is critical of Jews is antisemitic. Please stop criticizing the Holy People who live in the Holy Land. All other human flesh is subservient to Jewish Blood and flesh – that is the covenant.

        Reply to Comment
        • Margot Dunne

          I can’t work out if this comment is for real, or if it is sarcastic.

          Reply to Comment
        • ayngelwing

          The covenant is not that all others are subservient to the Jews.
          Don’t be insulting.

          Reply to Comment
      • Margot Dunne

        Not true, Hi. There is an old saying of the Scottish poet, Robbie Burns: “O would some god the giftie give us / To see ourselves as others see us.”

        Reply to Comment
      • Margot Dunne

        Not true, Hi. There is an old saying of the Scottish poet, Robbie Burns: “O would some god the giftie give us / To see ourselves as others see us.” Uncritical colonialist Zionists need to take this advice seriously.

        Reply to Comment
        • Joel


          When are Scots going to quit Derry and Ulster?

          Reply to Comment
          • Margot Dunne

            I’ve got no idea, but if they shouldn’t be there I hope they go soon!!

            Reply to Comment
    6. Melissa L

      Nice spin. Educate yourself.

      Reply to Comment
      • Margot Dunne

        There’s lots of spinning around here – with which dizzy spinner are you upset? Of course some spinners spin stronger thread than others.

        Reply to Comment
    7. Mohammad Naser

      Israel must withdraw from the west bank and must deconstruct all settlement too including Jerusalem

      Reply to Comment