05.02.2024 Author: Alexandr Svaranc

Hamas is interested in another ceasefire

Hamas is interested in another ceasefire

Tel Aviv reported that successful talks had been held in Paris with the participation of the intelligence services of Israel, the United States, Egypt and the Prime Minister of Qatar on the release of hostages and another “humanitarian pause” in this regard. However, neither Mossad chief David Barnea nor Shabak chief Ronen Bar reported that Hamas had reached a final agreement on the topic.

The Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed al-Thani, who represents Hamas in the negotiations, initially apparently conveyed a different position to his Palestinian partners. Specifically, Hamas rejected a temporary truce, refused to release all Israeli hostages, and set counter-conditions:

– An end to the war (peace instead of a temporary truce);

– Recognition of the independence of a Palestinian state;

– an all-for-all exchange of hostages and prisoners.

Such a maximalist position of Hamas could hardly satisfy Israel, which continues to consider the war until the end of the war as its main objective. According to an Israeli intelligence official presented to Fox News, the current Palestinian-Israeli war could last until 2025.

It is clear that Tel Aviv’s goal is not war for war’s sake, but the destruction of Hamas (its military and political structures), the next occupation of the Gaza Strip, the maximum reduction of the Palestinian population in this enclave (either by extermination or ethnic deportation) and the establishment of total control over the coastal territory to exclude another relapse on 7 October.

Israel enjoys the unlimited support of the main ally of the US and Britain, so instead of reducing the theatre of hostilities in the same Gaza Strip, it does not exclude the expansion of the conflict with the transfer of intensive fighting to southern Lebanon. In turn, Washington has already announced a series of retaliatory strikes on Iranian and pro-Iranian facilities outside Iran (in particular, in Yemen, Syria and Iraq) for periodic pinpoint attacks by Shiite groups on American military bases and diplomatic centres in the Middle East.

Naturally, the harsh reaction and willingness of the US to use force against the interests of Iran, whom Washington and Tel Aviv accuse of supporting anti-Israeli power groups, gives Israel confidence in the infallibility of its actions and the continuation of the hard war against Hamas. Every day the war leads to new irreplaceable physical losses and large-scale material destruction in the Gaza Strip, and the humanitarian crisis is worsening (first of all, hunger and lack of medicines).

The fact that CIA Director William Burns took part in the Paris talks as a mediator suggests that the US position is also being conveyed to Hamas through the Qatari Prime Minister. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has instructed the State Department to analyse and present options for possible recognition of an independent Palestinian state by the US and the international community after the war between Israel and Hamas.

If we connect this information with the recent similar statement by British Foreign Minister David Cameron, it becomes clear that Washington and London are in intensive consultations with their Western and Middle Eastern partners on the settlement of Palestinian-Israeli relations on the basis of some form of recognition of the independence of the Palestinian state. Therefore, the allies and partners of Hamas and Fatah, such as Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and perhaps Iran, may urge the Palestinians to abandon the maximalist approach in the Paris talks and opt for a phased resolution of the issues.

Given the rapid pace of public statements by the heads of the Foreign Office and the State Department on the possible fate of Palestine, Hamas changed its position on the negotiating platform and agreed to a phased release of Palestinians from Israeli prisons. In particular, they said they “will not demand the release of those sentenced to long prison terms.” However, Al Hadath reports that Hamas has not yet responded with full approval to the proposals that were worked out in Paris.

Another truce in the Gaza war zone, and Israel has requested a two-month truce, may allow:

a) Allow active humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians with the participation of international organisations and interested countries (e.g. UN, Turkey, Egypt, KSA, UAE, Jordan, etc.);

b) continue the exchange of hostages and prisoners;

c) concentrate IDF military action against Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, and US-British coalition forces against the Houthis in Yemen and Shiite groups in Syria and Iraq.

By the way, U.S. sources report that U.S. retaliatory strikes against Iranian targets could last several weeks. At the same time, Washington does not plan to strike targets directly on the territory of Iran to exclude direct military escalation with Tehran. Military targets could be Iranian-controlled facilities in Syria and Iraq, as well as cyber operations are not ruled out.

It became known about the imminent visit of Turkish President Erdogan to Egypt to meet with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The main topic of the talks in Cairo will be related to the provision of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, harmonisation of approaches to the settlement of the Palestinian issue in general and Turkish-Egyptian trade and economic ties. This visit is noteworthy due to the fact that Ankara and Cairo only last July restored diplomatic relations, which were severed in 2013 after the overthrow of President Mohammed-Da Morsi, a representative of the radical Islamic organisation Muslim Brotherhood (an organisation banned in Russia), whose supporters include Recep Erdogan.

As is well known, it is through the Egyptian Rafah crossing that humanitarian aid to the Palestinians is transited. Turkey has already accepted wounded children and women from Gaza for treatment, is one of the active supporters of increasing humanitarian aid and, apparently, the negotiations with Blinken are encouraging in this direction. Accordingly, the agreement of the positions of the Arab East and Turkey on the option of recognising Palestinian independence will stimulate the approaching time of cessation of hostilities in the Gaza Strip and the resolution of the Palestinian issue.

The Wall Street Journal notes that Israel and Hamas may reach a 6-week truce, during which all prisoners will be released in three stages. At the same time, according to the head of the CIA, W. Burns, it will be difficult for Israel after such a long pause to start fighting with the same intensity, respectively, the military operations will acquire a more limited character.

The draft Paris Agreement envisages:

– in the first phase, Israel halts all military operations in the Gaza Strip for 6 weeks (including technical monitoring by UAVs) and Hamas collects hostages for release (all civilian hostages – especially children, women, the elderly and the sick – will be released);

– in the second phase, the release of Israeli female soldiers begins, and more humanitarian aid will be sent to the Gaza Strip and the operation of hospitals, bakeries and water services will be guaranteed;

– in the third phase, Hamas releases Israeli male soldiers and hands over the bodies of the dead hostages.

If this project, approved by the head of the Mossad David Barnea, is implemented, Israel will actually fulfil its obligations to its society to release all (or almost all) hostages, which will undoubtedly improve the undermined rating of Prime Minister B. Netanyahu.

In 1.5-2 months, it is obvious and in the State Department the analysis of the search for options of recognition of Palestinian independence will be completed, the answer to the establishment of the final truce and cessation of the Palestinian-Israeli war will be ready. By that time, Mr Erdogan will have agreed with Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and other Arab partners on the proposals of the “Anglo-Saxon committee” on Palestine. Whether this will be the case in reality – the near future will show….


Alexander SVARANTS – PhD of Political Science, Professor, especially for the online magazine «New Eastern Outlook»

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