MK Shelah: Turn Ceasefire into Long-Term Agreement

MK Ofer Shelah says that the ceasefire in Gaza should lead to a return to peace negotiations with the PA.

Elad Benari ,

MK Ofer Shelah
MK Ofer Shelah
Flash 90

MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) said on Tuesday that he hesitantly supports the long-term ceasefire in Gaza.

"Israel's real test starts now,” said Shelah, who called for Israel to turn the ceasefire into a long-term arrangement.

“The fighting of the soldiers and the resolve of the people of the south allowed us to strike Hamas, but the real goal - a long-term quiet on the Gaza front and preventing Hamas from building up its weapons - will be achieved only if we succeed in the diplomatic opportunity to make a long-term arrangement," he said.

"Cooperation with the relevant factors in the area, under international auspices, can lead to both this arrangement and the resumption of negotiations with the Palestinian Authority. This is a test, and the prime minister must not shy away from it,” said Shelah.

The comments came amid reports that roughly half the cabinet was opposed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's decision to agree to an open-ended ceasefire with Hamas - but the decision was passed unilaterally by the PM anyway.

Government sources told Walla! news on Tuesday evening that a legal technicality meant the Prime Minister did not need to gain the approval of his cabinet to accept the ceasefire on Israel's behalf - but that had he done so, it is uncertain it would have passed due to the extent of opposition to it.

Under the agreement, there will be an immediate easing of restrictions on the two main crossings between Israel and Gaza to allow in aid and reconstruction supplies.

Significantly, construction materials needed to repair the water network, electricity grid and mobile phone networks will be allowed in along with humanitarian aid, food and medical supplies. It should be noted that Israel continued supplying humanitarian goods throughout most of Operation Protective Edge.

As for the Gaza fishing zone, restrictions will be lifted immediately to extend the zone to six nautical miles from the shore, to be extended later to 12 miles. Over the past eight years, Israel has set a six-nautical-mile limit for Gaza's fishermen when tensions were lower, restricting it to three miles when hostilities have escalated.

Shelah has long been a supporter of a peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA). On Monday, he described PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas as a “rival”, in response to Abbas’s threat to turn to the international community to set a deadline for Israel to withdraw back to the pre-1967 borders.

At the same time he reiterated his support for a withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders with land swaps, though he stressed that this cannot be imposed on Israel.