Hamas Won Partial Victory In Gaza Cease-Fire Deal

Article Summary
Mohammed Yaghi characterizes the Hamas-Israel ceasefire as half victory, half defeat, and questions decisions by Khaled Meshaal and the role of Egypt in the outcome.

The courageous Gazan resistance was not expected to liberate Jerusalem, force the Israeli occupation to withdraw to the lines of June 4, down an F-16 aircraft or destroy Israeli warships in the middle of the sea. It was not expected to creep from Gaza into Israel's international borders.

Only four goals were set for the resistance:

  1. Not to give up in front of the madness of the Israeli force and fight with honor to defend the dignity of the Palestinians and the Arabs and their right to a life free of the daily hardships of the occupation — whatever the price
  2. To refuse any conditions imposed by the occupation forces, through which Israel usually commits crimes and strips the resistance of its ability to protect itself and its people
  3. To thwart the occupation's strategy for deterrence at the expense of the dignity of the Palestinians 
  4. To impose an explicit and clear end to the blockade that has been ongoing for six years

The resistance met the first three expectations. It succeeded in its refusal to surrender. It triumphed in the rejection of the terms of the Israeli truce, and it managed to make deterrence mutual, which sets the stage for additional battles as long as the occupation persists. Meanwhile, the resistance learned from its experiences while enhancing its strength for another day, assuming the occupation persists.

But it's a partial victory, for the resistance failed to impose an explicit end to the blockade. The agreement provides for the opening of the crossings and the facilitation of the transit of people and goods. It includes phrases such as "the opening of the crossings" and "facilitating the transit of," which are just empty words because the crossings were open and the facilities were always available, according to the Israelis.

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Therefore, this truce does not offer anything new. But let's not burden the resistance with more than it can bear. To be frank, "opening the crossings" is not a purely Israeli responsibility. The strip has three crossings: two of them with Israel and the other with Egypt. The Rafah crossing does not need a war with Israel in order to be open. Rather, it needs an Egypt free of the domination of the occupation in order to be open.

If the Egyptian leadership was expecting the resistance to liberate it from the occupation and its terms by "opening the Rafah crossing," then the resistance has failed. Egypt should have exploited the Israeli attack on Gaza to free itself from the shackles of occupation and declare the Rafah crossing open — permanently and without coordination with the occupation [orces — for the transit of goods and people. It should have done so without waiting for Israeli or American approval. In fact, such approval can be obtained by opening the crossing and establishing a fait accompli..

If what has happened in the past eight days is a partial victory for the resistance, which is backed by Iran "at the military and material" level with the acknowledgment of both Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas, and Ramadan Shallah, head of the Islamic Jihad, then the other half is defeat, which Meshaal tried to cover through everlasting praise for the Egyptian leadership, Turkey and Qatar.

Palestinians can surely understand the reasons behind Mashaal's praise for the three mediating countries. They even understand his conviction-free reproaches for the US position on the war on Gaza, which do not differ — content-wise — from the words uttered by Meshaal himself to "pay homage to the Mubarak regime which conspired against the resistance in the 2008-2009 war." Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and everywhere else want to neutralize the enemy and win friends.

But what Mashaal and Shallah cannot say, for reasons related to the nature of their work and the continuing need to search for friends, can be said by political analysts, columnists and intellectuals.

War has shown the half that we do not want to see after the Arab Spring, the half of the Arab defeat. This was expressed by statements condemning the aggression and holding the international community — rather than the Arabs — accountable. It was expressed by visits made by the Arab foreign ministers to the “Gaza consolation house.”

The worst of the half-defeat is probably the contempt that Qatar’s foreign minister started to display at the Arab League meeting, when he publicly said that he is a sheep, among other sheep, and that Arab ewes don't have the ability to resist the Israeli goat.

The half-defeat that Meshaal did not dare to talk about is that Egypt's foreign policy is still the same. Egypt hasn’t become a supporter of the Palestinians. It is still the same as it was under the Mubarak regime: assume the role of a mediator between conflicting parties! The only difference between the present mediator and the one under the Mubarak regime is that Meshaal admits that the present mediator is neutral and impartial. This means that today's Egypt hasn’t exerted pressure on Hamas to accept the Israeli conditions, as did the former regime. As a matter of principle, the Egypt that has acted in the capacity of a mediator since the departure of Gamal Abdel Nasser is not currently acting in support of Palestinians under the Morsi regime. "Support" is not intended to mean that Egypt needs to fight Israel on behalf of the Palestinians, but it can be to the Palestinian resistance what Iran is to Hezbollah, and that is not asking much from the largest Arab country.

The condolence visits to Gaza should be reserved for popular and partisan delegations; this is their role. The financial and political support that Egypt provides is clear. The state opens a border crossing, delivers an explicit warning and supports with funds, training and arms. Moreover, taking part in condolence visits is a part of the moral support that the state provides, after assessing what needs to be done, not before. 

The mediation between the resistance and Israel should be reserved to non-Arab countries such as Germany, France, Norway and Turkey. The mediation can’t be conducted by an Arab country that was part of the Arab Spring and considered a supporter of Palestinians and their resistance. The Arab mediation is the biggest sign of the half-defeat that we are talking about during this battle. The praise messages from the United States and Israel to Morsi are not completely different from the praise messages delivered to Mubarak.

Meshaal said, "Egypt did not exert pressure on us. It conveyed our demand to the other party with integrity." He asked Turkey, Qatar and other countries’ mediators — who came to support Egypt in its endeavor to ease the situation with Israel — to bring real support for Palestinians, but in the Iranian way — is not that a clear Arab defeat?

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Found in: gaza, egyptian palestinian relations
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