By Ted Belman
Why is Israel participating in the ceasefire talks.She will be forced to concede more than she wants to and will not get what she wants. At lease if she boycotted the talks, she wouldn’t be conceding anything.
For all Bibi’s tough talk and spin, the reality is otherwise. Bibi pulled the IDF out of Gaza to meet a prime demand of Hamas before negotiations started. In a blink of an eye he sent a delegation to Cairo for ceasefire talks knowing what the Arabs were demanding. A tougher response would have been to say “call me when you are ready to negotiate demilitarization”. The truth of the matter is that Hamas will never agree to demilitarization. The fact that Bibi didn’t draw a line in the sand means that he is flexible on demilitarization.
JPOST published an analysis by Herb Keinon of the negotiations that lie ahead.
[..] And now those EU leaders will ask for payback from Israel for giving it the diplomatic space to wage the campaign, and the currency in which they will want to see payment will be “progress in the Mideast peace process.”
“You want our help demilitarizing Gaza, be more forthcoming toward Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank” will be the likely refrain. And this refrain will also be heard from Washington, where the Gaza crisis further strained the already less than ideal Obama-Netanyahu relationship.
But Netanyahu will not be overly eager to pay in this currency.
The gaps between Israel and the PA that emerged during the recently failed US-brokered talks remain, and – if anything – have only deepened.
Both the near-closing of Ben-Gurion Airport due to rocket fire from Gaza, as well as the tunnels that were burrowed into Israel (if that can be done from Gaza, then it will be argued it can also easily be done from a West Bank void of IDF troops), will stiffen Netanyahu’s security requirements – security requirements that the Palestinians were unwilling to accept even beforehand.
The US and Europe will want to see Netanyahu initiate a diplomatic process, but his political space will be limited as those on his right – Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett – are unlikely to give him any room for flexibility.
Furthermore, the country – which just underwent the trauma of daily funerals for soldiers and constantly running to the bomb shelters – will be in no mood to make concessions to the Palestinian Authority, especially amid an uptick in Palestinian terrorism from Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Netanyahu will be walking a difficult tightrope: wanting to give something to the international community to enlist its support in demilitarizing Gaza, but not willing or able to repay the international community in the currency it wants.
And remember Obama and Kerry have said demilitarization will come with a peace agreement and will be part of it.