Anatomy of a Failure: The Cease-fire That Wasn't

Four Haaretz analysts examine this week's abortive attempt to end the fighting.

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Israeli soldiers sleep on the ground next to an armoured personnel carrier (APC) outside the Gaza Strip, July 15, 2014.
Israeli soldiers sleep on the ground next to an armoured personnel carrier (APC) outside the Gaza Strip, July 15, 2014.Credit: Reuters

The Egyptian offer of a cease-fire this week promised to end the fighting between Israel and Gaza, now in its ninth day. But while the Israeli government accepted it, Hamas said no. Haaretz analysts weighed in on the reasons for and likely consequences of this surprise development.

Amira Hass wrote that the reaction on the Palestinian street to Hamas' rejection was divided – between the "fatalism, fear and exhaustion" of its opponents and the defiance of its supporters, whose attitude was, “Better a quick death than the slow one under siege and imprisonment offered by Israel and Egypt.”

Anshel Pfeffer opined that while Netanyahu sees Israel's acceptance and Hamas' rejection as giving Israel "international legitimacy" to widen its attacks, this is a double-edged sword. "He is aware, though, that any legitimacy is still limited and that if the cease-fire cannot be salvaged and soon, he will be much close to a decision he is extremely reluctant to make - ordering a ground offensive in Gaza."

Regarding the effect on domestic Israeli politics, Yossi Verter wrote that Netanyahu's acceptance of the cease-fire may win him points with the center-left, but they will never vote for him. In his own Likud party, Netanyahu's firing of super-hawk Danny Danon probably loses him support. "Danon, with all due respect, is not the problem. He is the symptom of Netanyahu’s trouble with Likud; his dismissal will only help him in the next primary."

In their look behind the scenes of the cease-fire proposal, Barak Ravid and Jack Khoury wrote that it was hastened by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's offer/threat to fly to the region and try to broker a truce. "Cairo objected to Kerry coming because it wanted to show that President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi’s new government was capable of playing Egypt’s traditional diplomatic role with regard to Gaza without outside help. Jerusalem objected because it thought Kerry’s arrival would be interpreted as American pressure on Israel, and thus as an achievement for Hamas. … [This] pushed Egypt and Israel to accelerate their own efforts to craft a cease-fire proposal."

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, right, discussing the Gaza-Israel conflict with Tony Blair, Quartet rep to the Middle East, on July 12. Credit: Reuters

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