Israeli envoy arrives in Egypt for Gaza ceasefire talks

Unnamed diplomat in Cairo for truce negotiations, as Israel continues preparations for a possible ground offensive

The Guardian, By Julian Borger and Harriet Sherwood, November 18

Jerusalem – An Israeli envoy has arrived in Egypt for possible negotiations on a ceasefire as the barrage on Gaza intensified and the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, threatened to “significantly expand” military operations.

Amid signs of Israeli preparations for an invasion, the US and UK signalled that although they accepted that strikes against Gaza had been justified because of rockets fired by militants inside the Palestinian enclave, their support would lessen if Israel sent in troops and tanks.

“Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory,” Barack Obama said at the start of a three-nation tour in Asia. “Let’s understand what the precipitating event here was … that was an ever escalating number of missiles that were landing not just in Israeli territory but in areas that are populated.

“There is no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders.” The US president said it would be preferable if the Israeli operation against rocket launchers in Gaza could be accomplished without “a ramping-up of military activity”.

Obama added: “It’s not just preferable for the people of Gaza. It’s also preferable for Israelis, because if Israeli troops are in Gaza, they’re much more at risk of incurring fatalities or being wounded.”


Ground Invasion of Gaza Strip Would Damage Israel, Hague Says

Bloomberg Businessweek, By Andrew Atkinson, November 18

Israel risks losing international support if it mounts a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip to stop rocket attacks from Hamas militants, U.K. Foreign Secretary William Hague said.

A ground incursion would make it harder to limit civilian casualties and prolong the current conflict, Hague told Sky News television today.

He said he and Prime Minister David Cameron “have both stressed to our Israeli counterparts that a ground invasion of Gaza would lose Israel a lot of the international support and sympathy they have in this situation.”

Israel said today it was prepared to “significantly widen” its assault on the Gaza Strip as rocket attacks on its cities continued for a fifth day. Regional leaders are racing to broker an accord to end a conflict that has killed 52 Palestinians and three Israelis.


Hamas links truce to end of Gaza border blockade

AP, November 18

Gaza’s Hamas rulers are aiming high in the conditions they place on stopping rocket fire into Israel in indirect cease-fire talks launched this weekend. Emboldened by Arab support and confident in their arsenal, the Islamists say calm can only come if Israel opens the gates of the tiny, closed-off territory.

The question is how far Hamas will go to reach that long-sought goal, which Israel opposes out of fear of an influx of weapons to Gaza militants.

For now, public opinion in Gaza appears to support continued rocket attacks on Israel. However, Israeli aircraft have already struck hundreds of Hamas-linked targets in Gaza and Israel is threatening to escalate its military offensive. On Sunday, a new tactic of bombing the homes of Hamas operatives claimed the lives of at least nine children.

The indirect contacts between Israel and Hamas began Sunday, the fifth day of Israel’s massive bombing campaign meant to halt more than a decade of intermittent Gaza rocket attacks on Israel.

An Israeli envoy was whisked from the tarmac at Cairo’s international airport to talks with senior Egyptian security officials. The top Hamas leader in exile Khaled Mashaal held talks with Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, who also spoke by phone with the Hamas prime minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh.


Palestinians: Israel demands 15-year lull, Morsi guarantee

According to reports in Cairo, Israel put forward six key demands for ceasefire, threatened ground offensive in Gaza if no response within 48 to 72 hours

YNet News, By Elior Levy, November 19

Some Hamas figures have declared that the ceasefire negotiations have failed, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the cessation of rocket fire on Israel is a prerequisite for starting talks, but Palestinian sources who are familiar with Cairo’s efforts to broker a truce said it was too soon to announce that the talks have collapsed.

On Sunday senior Fatah official Nabil Sha’ath arrived in the Egyptian capital and met with Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal. Sha’ath said Mashaal informed him that the negotiations have entered a serious stage but expressed doubt that an agreement would be reached anytime soon due to Israel’s demands and its refusal to accept demands put forward by Hamas and the other Palestinian terror organizations.

According to reports in Cairo, these are the conditions for a ceasefire set forth by Israel:

  1. A lull for a period of more than 15 years.
  2. An immediate cessation of arms smuggling and the transfer of weapons to Gaza.
  3. Cessation of rocket fire on the part of all armed Palestinian factions and an end to attacks on soldiers near the Gaza border.
  4. Israel has the right to hunt down terrorists in the event of an attack or if it obtains information on an imminent attack.
  5. The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt will remain open, but the crossings on the Gaza-Israel border will remain closed.
  6. Egypt’s politicians, headed by President Mohammed Morsi, will be the guarantors of any ceasefire agreement. Meaning, the agreement will be backed by Egypt’s political echelon rather than by its security establishment.

This list of demands has not been confirmed by any other source.

6 comments to Israeli envoy arrives in Egypt for Gaza ceasefire talks

  • adrena

    An Outgunned Hamas Tries to Tap Islamists’ Growing Clout

    NYT, By David D. Kirkpatrick, November 19

    CAIRO — Emboldened by the rising power of Islamists around the region, the Palestinian militant group Hamas demanded new Israeli concessions to its security and autonomy before it halts its rocket attacks on Israel, even as the conflict took an increasing toll on Sunday.

    After five days of punishing Israeli airstrikes on the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip and no letup in the rocket fire in return, representatives of Israel and Hamas met separately with Egyptian officials in Cairo on Sunday for indirect talks about a truce.

    More at the link

  • adrena

    Israel says prefers diplomacy over Gaza invasion option

    Reuters, By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Jeffrey Heller

    GAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel bombed dozens of targets in Gaza on Monday and said that while it was prepared to step up its offensive by sending in troops, it preferred a diplomatic solution that would end Palestinian rocket fire from the enclave.

    As international pressure mounted for a truce, mediator Egypt said a deal to end the fighting could be close.

    More at the link

    • adrena

      I guess the world’s condemnation is having an effect. You can’t very well accuse everyone of being anti-Semitic. That tired old Israeli tactic has run its course.

  • adrena

    Is Israel Inadvertently Legitimating Hamas Rule in Gaza?

    Atlantic, By Zachary K. Goldman, November 19

    Israel’s latest exchange of violence with Hamas in Gaza exhibits many of the features that characterized previous periods of conflict between the parties. In the days preceding Israel’s operation, Hamas and other terrorist groups fired over 100 rockets and mortars into Israel and laid explosives near the fence that separates Gaza and Israel, causing casualties among Israeli soldiers. After warnings from Israel’s political leadership, it responded with a series of air attacks against Hamas.

    But this time, the nature of Israel’s response indicates that it is treating Hamas more and more like the sovereign authority in Gaza, with a complicated series of implications. Such treatment both increases the chances for a period of short- to medium-term calm after the current round of hostilities subsides, but decreases the chances for a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians over the long-run.

    There are three specific ways in which Israel is treating Hamas like the supreme authority in the coastal enclave during the current stage of the conflict. First, and most importantly, Hamas is being held responsible for all acts of violence emanating from the Strip. While Hamas is directly to blame for some of the rocket fire and explosives that took place in the weeks before Israel commenced Operation Pillar of Defense, many of the attacks that precipitated Israel’s most recent response were conducted by other terrorist groups, such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad or the Popular Resistance Committees.

    More at the link

  • adrena

    Israel finds Arab Spring has complicated its move against Hamas

    McClatchy, By By Sheera Frenkel and Amina Ismail, November 19

    EREZ, Israel — In a small cafe not far from the border with Gaza, Israeli reserve soldiers sipped coffee Friday morning and mused about what they might face if they are ordered to invade the densely populated coastal strip that is governed by the Islamist groups Hamas.

    On the television, Egyptian Prime Minister Hesham Kandil was giving a speech after a three-hour visit to Gaza in which he pledged support for Hamas. “This situation cannot be tolerated,” he said, referring the Israeli bombing of targets throughout Gaza in retaliation for militants firing rockets into Israel. “The whole world has to intervene to stop the military operations on Gaza.”

    Earlier in the day, Kandil had kissed the corpse of a Palestinian child – a dramatic sign of sympathy and one that was echoed in Cairo by Egypt’s new president, Mohammed Morsi. “I say confidently that Egypt will not leave Gaza alone,” Morsi intoned in his Friday sermon delivered at Cairo’s Fatima al Sharbatli Mosque.

    “Now, that’s great,” said one Israeli reservist who had fought in Gaza four years ago during Operation Cast Lead, a brutal military campaign that left 1,300 Palestinians dead. “This time when I go into Gaza, they have their big brother watching them.”

    More at the link

  • adrena

    Analysis: Media war rages in Gaza

    Social media is allowing Palestinian activists and armed groups alike to make headway in a war of words and images.

    Aljazeera, By Safah Joudeh, November 19

    Gaza City – Israeli F-16 warplanes fired a missile at the Shawa Hossary media building in the early hours of Saturday morning, directly targeting the offices of Al Quds TV, a Hamas-affiliated satellite channel. The building was damaged, the channel transmission halted, and at least six journalists were injured. But many believe Israel’s foremost concern was sending a warning message to the government of Gaza.

    Seen as the mouthpiece of Hamas, Al Quds broadcasts content that serves to promote and glorify the image of the political and military arms of the movement. Since Israel launched its ongoing offensive in Gaza, Operation Pillar of Cloud, Al Quds has provided minute-by-minute updates on rockets fired into Israel and losses incurred on the Israeli side, boasting the increased size and reach of the military capabilities of Palestinian armed groups – mainly Hamas’ armed wing, the Qassam Brigades. Footage of hundreds of masked fighters marching in a show of numbers or conducting simulated raids, and grainy amateur videos of fighters attacking Israeli targets are played in a loop.

    The underlying issue in Hamas’ aggressive self-promotion on its satellite channels, as well as its official websites and other online platforms, is the media war that is taking place on the sidelines of and in correspondence with the military conflict.

    There are two levels to the PR approach employed Hamas. The first is addressing the local audience, the population of Gaza – and the second is propaganda aimed at Israeli decision makers.The portrayal of the Hamas movement as having a strong, well-equipped military force with a solid organisational structure serves to increase its authority and popularity among Gazans, while sending a clear message to Israel: Hamas is an adversary to be reckoned with, rather than an unrecognised regime that can be forcibly removed.

    More at the link

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