Webmaster: This is Sisi’s first failure in foreign policy. Sisi and
Netin Gil-Laden tried to pull a fast one on Hamas. With no guarantee to a conclusive end of Israel and Egypt's blockade on Gaza, and the release of certain prisoners from Israeli jails, Gaza faces humanitarian crises.
Gaza Under Siege - Israel/Palestine
Hamas has officially told Egypt that it rejects an Egyptian-proposed Gaza ceasefire, a spokesman for the Islamist group has said.
"The outcome of discussions within the internal institutions of the movement was to reject the proposal and therefore, Hamas informed Egypt last night it apologises for not accepting it," spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said on Wednesday.
Hamas's armed wing had already spurned the Egyptian plan on Tuesday, and Israel, which briefly halted its Gaza offensive, resumed attacks after cross-border rocket fire from the Palestinian territory persisted.
Egypt claims it has not been involved in any negotiations since its proposed ceasefire in Gaza –
which was accepted by Israel but rejected by Hamas – failed to gain traction on Tuesday.
A key mediator in previous Israeli-Palestinian tensions, Egypt proposed a ceasefire on Monday night, which it hoped would end the latest Gaza conflict that has killed more than 200 Palestinians and one Israeli.
The proposals were quickly accepted by Israel. While one Hamas official said the group was considering its reaction, others in the
group's political and military wings rejected the initiative outright, claiming they had only found about it through the media and were angry that it did not deal with some of the group's major demands: a conclusive end of Israel and Egypt's blockade on Gaza, and the release of certain prisoners from Israeli jails.
Observers remain doubtful that Egypt has really stopped participating in negotiations following the failure of its ceasefire, given the embarrassment involved in failing to fulfil its traditional role of mediation. "There is of course contact on all sorts of levels," said one Cairo-based diplomat.
HA Hellyer, a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution and Cairo-based analyst, said the unilateral nature of Egypt's earlier efforts might make Hamas even less willing to engage with them. But he doubted that Egypt had taken a backseat.
"I would doubt the Egyptian foreign ministry is simply leaving this process out there without being proactively engaged," said Hellyer. "Otherwise, another peace deal could emerge from somewhere else that they're not involved in – and that would be embarrassing. Gaza is on Egypt's border, and is traditionally a big Egyptian file. If the new government can't deal with it in time, before someone else does, it's a big diplomatic faux-pas."
Another senior diplomat in Cairo agreed: "This is very bad for Egypt. This is [Egyptian president] Sisi's first main international challenge since his election. Given Egypt's historic role in mediating this conflict, he needs to succeed."
Sisi's administration has been criticised for the clumsiness with which it approached the ceasefire. It is accused of failing to properly engage with Hamas before the announcement of its proposal, and of underestimating Hamas's desire to win substantial concessions from negotiations.
"Hamas were informed about the deal, they were told about it," said Hellyer. "But they weren't part of the negotiations for the ceasefire, while the Israelis were, and I think it was bound to fail for that reason. Hamas had made it clear it is not in the mood for a ceasefire that doesn't give it much – particularly after a conflict that has seen so many deaths. It was quite foreseeable what would happen."
The Egyptian administration may be wary of being perceived within Egypt to be negotiating too closely with Hamas. The government has led a year-long vilification of the Islamist group, due to Hamas's links with Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which was forced from office last July. Brotherhood officials have been accused of spying for Hamas, while Hamas itself was banned in Egypt, and constantly attacked in pro-regime Egyptian media for allegedly meddling in Egyptian affairs.
In an example of Egyptians' unusually mixed reaction to the Gaza conflict, a cartoon in Egypt's leading private broadsheet newspaper on Wednesday portrayed Hamas's leadership as rejecting Egypt's mediation out of spite.
"We listened to you and refused the Egyptian initiative," a cartoon Hamas leader says into a telephone.
"Send us a Qatari or Turkish initiative that we can approve of right away."
The full text of the Egyptian cease-fire proposal
Read the full text of the Egyptian proposal that is being discussed by the Israeli security cabinet.
By Haaretz | Jul. 15, 2014 |
1. Owing to Egypt’s historical responsibility, and out of belief in the importance of achieving peace in the region, protecting the lives of innocents, and ending the bloodshed;
Egypt calls upon Israel and all of the Palestinian factions to enact an immediate ceasefire, due to the fact that escalation and mutual violence, and the victims that will result, will not be in the interest of either party as such, during the period of the ceasefire, both sides shall abide by the following:
a. Israel shall cease all hostilities against the Gaza Strip via land, sea, and air, and shall commit to refrain from conducting any ground raids against Gaza and targeting civilians.
b. All Palestinian factions in Gaza shall cease all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel via land, sea, air, and underground, and shall commit to refrain from firing all types of rockets, and from attacks on the borders or targeting civilians.
c. Crossings shall be opened and the passage of persons and goods through border crossings shall be facilitated once the security situation becomes stable on the ground.
d. Other issues, including security issues shall be discussed with the two sides.
2. Method of implementation of the initiative:
a. It has been decided to initiate implementation of the de-escalation agreements at -- : -- hours (GMT) on -- / 7 / 2014, pending the implementation of a full ceasefire within twelve hours of the announcement of the Egyptian initiative and its unconditional acceptance by both sides.
b. High-level delegations from both the Israeli government and the Palestinian factions shall be hosted in Cairo within 48 hours of the initiation of the initiative’s implementation in order to conclude talks for the consolidation of the ceasefire and resume confidence-building measures between the two sides. Talks shall be held with each of the two sides separately (in accordance with the agreements for the consolidation of de-escalation in Cairo in 2012).
c. Both sides shall commit to refrain from taking any actions aimed at undermining the implementation of the agreements; Egypt shall receive guarantees from both sides of their commitment to implementing what has been agreed and shall follow up on its implementation and engage with either side in the case of any action that impinges on its stability.
Secret call between Netanyahu, al-Sissi led to abortive cease-fire
1. Why it is secret? 2. Why this is not published in Egyptian Newspapers?
Haaretz has learned that the PM spoke to the Egyptian president in a phone call prompted by Quartet envoy Tony Blair.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi on Saturday in a telephone call that has been kept secret until now, after Quartet special envoy Tony Blair urged the Egyptian leader to become more actively involved in promoting a cease-fire, diplomatic sources told Haaretz.
Israel agreed to a cease-fire Tuesday morning and briefly halted its air strikes on Gaza. Hamas did not accept the terms of the truce, however, and continued firing rockets. Several hours later, Israel resumed its attacks as well.
The Saturday conversation was the first between Netanyahu and al-Sissi since Israel's Operation Protective Edge began July 8, and only the second since al-Sissi took office in June.
The diplomatic sources said Blair was still in the region Wednesday, continuing to push for a cease-fire. Blair is due to meet with al-Sissi again Wednesday to continue looking into ways to end the fighting.
Diplomatic efforts are also underway to pressure Hamas to agree to the cease-fire proposal.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who met with Netanyahu on Tuesday in Tel Aviv, spoke by telephone over the past 24 hours with the foreign ministers of Egypt, Qatar and Turkey, asking them to increase the pressure on Hamas.
Senior Israeli officials and Western diplomats said the reason the Egyptian cease-fire initiative was so short-lived is that it was prepared hastily and was not coordinated with all the relevant parties, particularly Hamas.
Blair held talks with Netanyahu as well as al-Sissi in the early stages of the military campaign, in a bid to move forward with a cease-fire. He met with al-Sissi in Cairo on Saturday after coordinating his efforts with Kerry, the sources said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
The sources said Blair urged al-Sissi to push for an end to hostilities to prevent further harm to civilians in the Gaza Strip.
After the meeting, al-Sissi spoke for the first time about the need to work toward a truce based on the cease-plan from the last flare-up between Israel and Gaza, in November 2012. He said Egypt would hold talks on the subject with Israel and Hamas.
From Cairo, Blair traveled to Israel to meet with Netanyahu early Saturday evening, and told him al-Sissi was willing to engage in serious mediation efforts. Blair also updated Kerry on the situation, the sources said.
Blair discovered Saturday that Netanyahu and al-Sissi had not been in contact, and secured their agreement to speak by phone.
Both countries kept mum about the conversation, refraining from informing the press the two leaders had been in touch. The Prime Minister's Bureau did not immediately respond to a request to confirm the details described by the diplomatic officials.
In his first conversation with al-Sissi last month, Netanyahu congratulated him on winning the Egyptian presidential election. The Prime Minister’s Bureau said at the time that Netanyahu said Israel was committed to its peace treaty with Egypt and saw bilateral ties as being of strategic importance.