Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh El-Sisi, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas have lined up in a solid phalanx against the Islamist Hamas-Islamic Jihad alliance.
Their lineup, backed from the wings by Saudi King Abdullah and Russian President Vladimir Putin, set itself five objectives:
1. To confront Hamas with a solid political-security front which is beyond its power to break.
2. To corner Hamas into accepting the Egyptian ceasefire proposion unchanged and unconditionally.
3. To compel Hamas to disarm, i.e. dismantle its rockets and tunnels, so pulling the teeth of its military wing, Ezz e-Din al-Qassam.
4. To distance the Obama administration from the triple bloc’s dealings with the Palestinian Islamist factions.
5. To keep the Europeans from interfering in those dealings.
The foreign ministers of Britain, France, Germany and Italy meeting in Brussels offered Friday to take charge of Gaza’s border crossings and work to prevent illegal arms flows.
Saturday, Cairo, Jerusalem and Ramallah politely informed Brussels that they preferred to handle this situation on their own and no European diplomatic or security assistance was needed.
The proposition the three partners have formulated puts Hamas and Jihad on the spot. The Arab world has abandoned them and their only source of funding is Tehran. So their choices are grim: Face an escalated war that Israel will fight until the bitter end, or swallow hard and accept the only proposition on the table which is tantamount to disarmament and capitulation.
Their isolation is complete. The Egyptian, Israeli and Palestinian leaders have managed to cut Hamas away from any backing in Washington, Qatar and Turkey as well as blocking its path to Moscow.
To encourage Hamas to choose the right path, the Israel Air Force is cruising around-the-clock over Hamas bases and command centers in the Gaza Strip, ready at a signal to switch to the offensive if the Palestinian fundamentalists make the wrong choice in Cairo.
Mahmoud Abbas, who appeared to be sitting on the sidelines of the Gaza conflict during Israel’s month-long military operation, finally threw in his lot with Sisi and Netanyahu when it came to the crunch.
Israel will not agree under any circumstances to a ceasefire deal that doesn’t meet the country’s security demands, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, as an Israeli delegation landed in Cairo to discuss an Egyptian proposal aimed at ending hostilities in the Gaza Strip and across the Israeli border.
“The delegation in Cairo is operating under clear guidelines to stand by Israel’s security needs,” Netanyahu said at the beginning of Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “Only if there is an answer to these security needs will we reach an understanding.”
Netanyahu vowed that the IDF would retaliate forcefully to any Hamas provocation.
“We are a strong and determined nation,” he said.
The comments came as time ticked down on a truce, set to expire at midnight Monday, that was declared to allow Israel and Hamas to come to terms to end over a month of fighting.
The Times of Israel is liveblogging events as they unfold through Sunday, August 17, the 41st day of Operation Protective Edge. A five-day truce began amid rocket fire midnight Wednesday, but held through Thursday, Friday and Saturday. An 11-point Egyptian ceasefire proposal, leaked to the press on Friday, was rejected by Hamas leaders Saturday. Negotiators are due back in Cairo Sunday for more talks.
IDF could have conquered Gaza in days, says ex-NSC official
‘Hamas sticking to its blockade demands’
Why both Israel and Hamas may reject a truce
As talks resume in Cairo Sunday morning, the chances that the negotiations will yield a long-lasting ceasefire, according to both Israel and the Palestinians, are low, maybe even faint. One of the main difficulties is the problematic nature of the Egyptian proposal – for Hamas, and to a lesser extent for Israel.
The organization would be limited in terms of its ability to construct tunnels and to attack Israel. The agreement would give Abbas a foothold in Gaza as well. In some ways, it would simply render Hamas irrelevant. Hamas would be seen as the organization that destroyed Gaza, the Palestinian Authority as the organization that rehabilitated it. This may explain the combative interview given by Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal on Saturday — in which he insisted there would no resolution of the conflict without the full lifting of the blockade and the opening of a seaport and an airport — as well as the fact that the group seems in no hurry to sign the agreement.
One more point. The Palestinian Authority and Israel have a shared understanding about at least one issue: the lack of relevance of the American government to a political solution in the region. By contrast, both Jerusalem and Ramallah have enormous respect for Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and for the way he is operating. Therefore, it may be Sissi, not John Kerry or Barack Obama, who will be able to broker a resumption of peace negotiations between Netanyahu and Abbas. Maybe in a few months, after things calm down in Gaza, the Egyptian president will invite the two leaders to a conference in Cairo and announce a new peace effort.
After Netanyahu said Hamas lost and was trying to cover up its military defeat through ceasefire talks, Hamas officials hit back; meanwhile Cairo talks underway, but chances of deal seem slim.
Hamas has responded to comments made earlier by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said Hamas lost the conflict and is now attempting to make a political win in compensate for their loss.
On Saturday, Osama Hamdan, the head of Hamas's foreign affairs, said on Facebook: "Israel must accept the demands of the Palestinian people or face a long war."
Hamas official Izzat al-Risheq said Saturday that the organization has not agreed and will not agree to what was offered the Palestinian delegation before it left Cairo.
"We oppose any formulation that does not match the demands of the Palestinian people. There are many issues that the delegation did not agree to in what was offered," said al-Risheq, who represented Hamas in Cairo.
Muslims, all belonging to Boko Haram, entered the Christian village of Gwoza and butchered one thousand people. They were slaughtered with bullets, burned alive, and hacked to death. Nigerian relations expert Adeniyi Ojutiku received a report from a trusted colleague:
Ojutiku received from Nigeria marked a phone call and was told that "an unprecedented emergency request for prayers for the inhabitants of the Christian village of Gwoza… The town has … been under siege of Boko Haram for the past nine days."
The Islamic State group (IS) has executed 700 people from a Syrian tribe it has been battling in eastern Syria over the past two weeks, the majority of whom were civilians, a Syrian monitoring group said Saturday.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has consistently tracked violence on both sides of the three-year-old Syrian civil war have said that around 700 members of the al-Sheitaat tribe, from the Deir al-Zor province, have been executed and that many of them were beheaded by IS jihadists.
The latest IS slaughter in their battle to create a medieval style caliphate across northern Iraq and Syria, come after 80 members of the Yazidi minority were massacred by IS militants in Iraq on Friday.
A senior Kurdish official told Reuters that he believed the Yazidi men had been killed because they refused to convert to Islam.
“We believe it because of their creed: convert or be killed.”
According to BasNews, a Kurdish website, the village of Kojo came under attack by IS radicals. The entire male population of the village was slaughtered and all the women and children were abducted.
In the Syrian province of Aleppo several towns and villages were seized by IS radicals from other Islamic groups earlier in the week.