Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Really a Cease Fire?

There is much talk of a possible “cease fire” between Hamas and Israel, however the Western understanding of a cease fire is far from the Arabic understanding.

The Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC) defines the a cease fire as “Tahadiya” which is a modern, secular term adopted by the Palestinians meaning a “lull in the fighting” and used exclusively in relation to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. It has no religious Islamic validity and in practical terms means an agreement between two rival sides, sometimes with the intervention of a third party, not necessarily as part of negotiations or a written agreement (such as a gentlemen's agreement, or an understanding).

Thus it is less binding than a “hudna” , a truce, which is an Islamic term. For that reason Hamas preferred to use the term “tahadiya” both in relation to the current contacts with Egypt and to the Cairo Agreement of 2005. That is because a “tahadiya” does not commit Hamas to recognizing Israel and permits it to carry out military activities except for engaging in actual fighting .

Thus far it seems that what has been agreed according to ITIC is that :-

i) Hamas agreed to a six-month lull in the Gaza Strip, during which time Egypt would work to extend it to the West Bank .

ii) The lull had to be mutual and simultaneous , and include the “ lifting of the blockade ” and the opening of the crossings, including the Rafah Crossing. The crossings would be opened as the lull went into effect. Mahmoud al-Zahar said that an agreement had been reached [between Egypt and Hamas] regarding the principles and commitments involved in reopening the Rafah Crossing.

iii) The other Palestinian organizations had to agree to the lull within a “national agreement.” Omar Suleiman would invite their representatives to Egypt to discuss the issue.

iv) Once the other organizations had agreed, Omar Suleiman would initiate contacts with Israel to achieve its agreement to the lull and to set up a time table for its implementation. Israel and Egypt would immediately take steps to prepare public opinion for the lull and to provide the Gaza Strip with basic supplies, especially fuel.

v) Egypt will ask the president of the Palestinian Authority for his agreement to open the crossings. Mahmoud al-Zahar noted that Hamas was close to an agreement with the PA regarding how the Rafah Crossing would be administered.

vi) The release of Gilad Shalit would be delayed until after the lull went into effect. Mahmoud al-Zahar said that the main obstacle was Israel's refusal to release terrorists who had been sentenced to long terms.

We have seen the ineffectiveness of such agreements in the past. Even the agreement via the UN for the peacekeepers in Lebanon has become a joke. Hizbollah is reportedly twice as strong as it was before the war and the UNIFIL peackeepers have not stopped Hizbollah’s build up one iota.

So once again it looks as though we are being conned into a cease fire in order that Hamas can regroup to fight another day – AND IT WILL!!

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