A “confidential draft” of the American ceasefire proposal leaked to the press appears to confirm what The Times of Israel reported Friday — that Washington was willing to generously accede to many of Hamas’s demands, while all but ignoring Israel’s security requirements.
The published text of the proposal, obtained by Haaretz, also shows that Qatar and Turkey — Hamas’s main sponsors in the region — were given prominent roles in the mediation, while the Palestinian Authority and Egypt were entirely marginalized.
The Israeli cabinet rejected the proposal unanimously on Friday night, several hours after it was submitted, and the leaked document makes plain why. According to the text, “the Palestinian factions” and the State of Israel would make three commitments:
a) Establish a humanitarian cease-fire, ending all hostilities in and from the Gaza Strip, beginning in 48 hours, and lasting for a period of seven days
b) Build on the Cairo cease-fire understandings of November 2012 [that were reached, through American and Egyptian mediation, following Operation Pillar of Defense]
c) Convene in Cairo, at the invitation of Egypt, within 48 hours to negotiate resolution of all issues necessary to achieve a sustainable cease-fire and enduring solution to the crisis in Gaza, including arrangements to secure the opening of crossings, allow the entry of goods and people and ensure the social and economic livelihood of the Palestinian people living in Gaza, transfer funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries for public employees, and address all security issues.
The third part — “c” above — of the proposed ceasefire agreement, which was submitted by US Secretary of State John Kerry, was a particular source of vexation for Israeli leaders, as it basically accepts all of Hamas’s demands but addresses Israeli worries only tangentially. Rather than calling for demilitarization of Gaza or addressing the attack tunnels the group has dug, the proposal merely calls for a general discussion of “all security issues.”
According to the document, Israel would not be forced to withdraw its troops from Gaza during the course of the truce, but would also not be allowed to continue its work destroying any tunnels in the strip. During the ceasefire, “the parties will refrain from conducting any military or security targeting of each other,” the draft states.
The document also mentions that “members of the international community, including the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union, the United States, Turkey, Qatar and many others, support the effective implementation of the humanitarian cease-fire and agreements reached between the parties, in cooperation and coordination with the parties, and will join in a major humanitarian assistance initiative to address the immediate needs of the people of Gaza.”
That segment effectively sidelines Jerusalem, Ramallah and Cairo, which are not mentioned at all. Especially noteworthy is the omission of Egypt, which borders on Gaza and has in the past mediated between Israel and Hamas. Instead, it appears, Kerry has designated Turkey and Qatar to take over this role in the current conflict. Doha and Ankara are Hamas’s staunchest allies in the region, which underlines why Jerusalem rejected the proposal outright.
Israeli sources slammed Kerry over the weekend for “capitulating” to Hamas’s ceasefire demands, and also for continuing his ceasefire consultations in Paris on Saturday with representatives of Qatar and Turkey, but not Israel, the PA or Egypt.
On Friday, The Times of Israel first reported what Arab sources said were the details of Kerry’s ceasefire offer.
The guarantees promised to Hamas by Kerry under a ceasefire, as relayed to The Times of Israel by the Palestinian sources, pertain to the following issues: an easing of restrictions on the passage of goods from Israel to Gaza; an easing of restrictions on the passage of traders and businessmen from Gaza to Israel; expansion of the permitted Gaza fishing zone to 12 miles off the coast; the opening of the Rafah crossing with Egypt, to be manned by Palestinian Authority officials; and a promise to ensure the transfer of salaries to Gaza’s government employees.
Kerry said in a statement during a meeting with his Turkish and Qatari counterparts in Paris late Saturday that the ceasefire proposal being negotiated involves arrangements for Israeli security, and for economic and social development for the Palestinians.
Israeli government sources on Saturday night accused Kerry of “completely capitulating” to the demands of Hamas and its champion Qatar in drafting the Gaza war ceasefire proposal that Israeli ministers unanimously rejected on Friday.
The unnamed sources, quoted by Israel’s Channel 2 TV, said Kerry “dug a tunnel under the Egyptian ceasefire proposal” — which Israel accepted and Hamas rejected last week — and presented the Israeli government with a text that accepted “most of the demands” raised by Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules the Strip.
On Sunday, Palestinian sources told the Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat that the Palestinian Authority was furious with US Secretary of State John Kerry for not consulting with it about his ceasefire initiative.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.