The Ceasefire Agreement is no Agreement

A close look at the wording of the agreement and what it implies - and doesn't imply.

Ted Belman,

OpEds Ted Belman
Ted Belman

The “ceasefire agreement” is no agreement at all. Let’s look at the wording:

A. Israel should stop all hostilities in the Gaza Strip land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals.

B. All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel including rocket attacks and all attacks along the border.

C. Opening the crossings and facilitating the movements of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents’ free movements and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire.

An agreement is constituted when both sides make commitments to each other. No commitments exist here. This document provides ” Israel should stop” etc. This is not a commitment to stop. A commitment would have read “Israel agrees to stop”.

The Palestinians on the other hand “shall stop…” . Normally one would use the same wording for both. The Use of “Shall” suggests it is a command rather than a Palestinian commitment.

The operative words in Para C are “opening” and “refraining” “shall be dealt with after 24 hours”. There is no agreement here other than a a stipulation that these issues are to be dealt with in the future. This is like a final status issue that is to be discussed later. The document doesn’t even say who shall deal with these issues.

Furthermore, the parties didn’t sign it. Why not? Israel can’t enter an agreement with “Palestine factions”, only with states. Israel didn’t want to appear to have concluded a deal with Hamas thereby elevating its stature. Thus each party ceased their shooting in the expectation that the other would also.
So far, these expectations have been met. The shooting has stopped.

But there appear to be an agreement between Egypt and Israel. At least expectations have been mooted that Egypt will act to stop the smuggling. Unfortunately, nothing has been announced on this score and perhaps there is no basis for it.

US and Israel may have an understanding, whether reduced to writing or not. Obama has suggested he will seek more funding for additional Iron Domes.

PM Netanyahu, when he announced the ceasefire said:

“Therefore I agreed with [US] President [Barack] Obama that we will work together against the smuggling of weapons – the vast majority of which comes from Iran – to the terrorist organizations.”

DEBKA goes so far as to report - without any confirmation:

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu agreed to a ceasefire for halting the eight-day Israeli Gaza operation Wednesday night, Nov. 21, after President Barack Obama personally pledged to start deploying US troops in Egyptian Sinai next week [..]

Obama’s pledge addressed Israel’s most pressing demand in every negotiating forum on Gaza: Operation Pillar of Cloud’s main goal was a total stoppage of the flow of Iranian arms and missiles to the Gaza Strip

There have been no official statements by either side to this effect, so we wait to see, but not for long. Obama allegedly agreed, with Morsi’s consent, that troop deployment would start in the coming week.

What makes this somewhat more plausible is that a similar agreement was demanded and signed just prior to the inauguration of ‎Barack Obama to achieve the ceasefire in the Cast Lead operation.

President  Obama failed to abide by the agreement and no doubt this was a major issue this time ‎around as well.‎

If this in fact has been agreed upon, it will be a dramatic game changer . As DEBKA points out:

1. Once the missile and arms consignments depart Iranian ports or Libyan arms bazaars, Tehran has no direct control of their transit from point to point through Egypt until they reach Sinai and their Gaza destination. All the same, a US special forces operation against the Sinai segment of the Iranian smuggling route would count as the first overt American military strike against an Iranian military interest.

Netanyahu, Barak and Lieberman are impressed by the change the Obama administration has undergone since the president’s reelection. Until then, he refused to hear of any military action against Iran and insisted that Tehran could only be confronted on the diplomatic plane.

2. President Morsi, by opening the Sinai door to an American troop deployment for Israel’s defense, recognizes that the US force also insures Israel against Cairo revoking or failing to honor the peace treaty Egypt signed with Israel in 1979.

3. In the face of this US-Israel-Egyptian understanding, Hamas cannot credibly claim to have won its latest passage of arms with Israel or that it obtained guarantees to force Israel to end the Gaza blockade.

Let's sit and wait for a week.