I would like to provide my readers with clear information on what’s happening in this part of the world. I would like a bit of certainty as we move forward. I would like to be able to report on an Israeli government stance that is reassuring.
I would like a good many things that I am not seeing. Which is what leads me to a place of frustration.
But hey, I recently put a magnet on my refrigerator. It says:
“What’s meant to be will find its way.”
And that is how it has to be for now. What happens is neither in my hands nor yours, my friends. Nothing I say will change matters. Nor will emails advising me as to what the government should do. We can only share the frustration, and wait.
And so here, a brief survey of what’s happening at the moment, provided with the understanding that very soon the situation might change. Again.
News broke on Monday that on May 22, Prime Minister Netanyahu had flown secretly to Cairo to meet for two hours with Egyptian President Al-Sisi, to discuss arrangements for a long-term deal in Gaza that would include a ceasefire, bringing the PA back into the picture, easing of the blockade on Gaza and improving infrastructure there. They also considered the issue of return of the two soldiers’ bodies and the two Israeli civilians. (Illustrative picture that follows is from an earlier meeting.)
This information helps us understand why Netanyahu has been taking the stance he has. He has anticipated that certain things might come together – especially as al-Sisi is leaning on Hamas. He made a statement about a day ago that I considered grandiose at the time – regarding his expectation that we would achieve full quiet at the border and would accept nothing less.
And this likely explains why he hasn’t come down harder on Hamas. We can guess that certain requests were likely made by al-Sisi with regard to this.
Today, however, a report emerged indicating that al-Sisi has given up on a long-term ceasefire because of the total intransigence of the PA:
“A senior Palestinian Authority (PA) source told Kan News that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is succeeding in his quest to disrupt the Egyptian efforts to broker a peace agreement with Gaza’s ruling Hamas.
“According to the senior official, Egypt understands the situation, and has therefore put aside the attempt to broker a long-term agreement between Hamas and the PA, instead focusing its efforts on renewing the understandings reached after 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.”
Al-Sisi and Netanyahu could/should have seen this coming. An insecure and angry Abbas is out to cooperate with no one.
I do not like the idea of going back to the understandings of 2014, because this would still allow Hamas to control the situation.
Meanwhile, after two days of quiet at the border, Defense Minister Lieberman (center, in picture below) has turned into Mr. Nice Guy. Or, depending on how you see it, Mr. Wimp. The Kerem Shalom crossing was opened today and 700 trucks of supplies went into Gaza. Not just humanitarian supplies and food, but even 82 trucks of cement. The range permitted to fisherman is to be enlarged, and additional fuel will be going into Gaza.
Lieberman, sounding to me like a conciliatory parent, delivered a message to Gazans that went out in Arabic, saying, See, look how nice we treat you when you behave.
This was a mere two days after Lieberman had said
“The question of the next round of fighting is not an ‘if,’ but a ‘when.’ I am sure that we will do what we must.”
In response to this I ask what our defense minister is doing to minimize the chances of renewed fighting. An open crossing is clearly not sufficient.
With all of this going on, following a Security Cabinet meeting today, a “political source” said:
“There will be no real arrangement with Hamas without the return of our boys and citizens to the home and the promise of quiet for a long time.”
So what are we seeing now? A fake arrangement?
What is meant by a “real” arrangement is that long-term ceasefire, as described above. We’ve already seen that this is not going to happen.
But there seems disagreement on precisely what HAS happened.
Was there a formal agreement to return to the 2014 ceasefire? Or was this simply a readiness by Hamas to hold fire for the interim, under pressure from al-Sisi, and threats of further barrages of rockets from Israel?
Lieberman is saying there is no ceasefire. Many news sources say there are.
These are semantic games being played here.
The most thoughtful statement to emerge from this confusion is from Education Minister Naftali Bennett (head Habayit Hayehudi), member of the Security Cabinet (emphasis added):
“This ‘quiet’ will award Hamas total immunity to replenish tens of thousands of rockets threatening all parts of the country, and allow them to launch a war against Israel at a time and under conditions most convenient to them. This will ultimately lead to the opening of two highly dangerous fronts, to the north and to the south – at a time determined by the enemy and under their conditions.
“After 130 days under attack and rocket fire, we must not reward terrorists without the return of our captives and our fallen. [Otherwise] The terrorists will learn that terror pays, and Israel’s power of deterrence will be harmed.
“There’s an alternative that doesn’t involve a ground operation into Gaza, which we oppose. We’ve initiated a plan to eliminate the terror from Gaza without maneuvering ground forces into Gaza, yet exacting a decisive price from Hamas. We put forward the plan in the relevant security forums – at this stage it hasn’t yet been adopted, but we’ll continue to promote this.”
I am with Naftali here, all the way.
Fervently do I hope we will see a satisfactory resolution to this issue soon.
“What’s meant to be will find its way.”
I am eager to turn to other subjects in my next posting, but here share a couple of happy reports. We need this badly to stay sane:
An enormous blue whale showed up in Eilat recently, for the first time. An endangered species, it is the largest animal on earth.
And speaking of Eilat:
“While most coral reefs are dying on a massive scale around the world, Eilat’s reef has shown an upward trend of about half a percent per year in live coral cover.”