Israel and Hamas rejected Friday the cease-fire proposal of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Following the rejection, Kerry claimed to have made significant progress in the negotiations and that Israels rejection was purely on matters of terminology. That, however, was not the case.
The confidential cease-fire proposal, a copy of which Haaretz obtained, contains practically no mention of Israel's security needs nor any mention of demilitarizing the Gaza Strip of rockets. The proposal, which Kerry presented to Israel on Friday evening, also forbade the Jewish state from demolishing infiltration tunnels during the seven day "humanitarian cease-fire" that was meant to end the fighting.
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If anything came out of Kerrys failed effort to broker a cease-fire, writes Barak Ravid, it was a deep crisis in the relations between the United States and Israel. Not only did his proposal include ridiculous benefits for Hamas, but it also put the group on the same level as Israel – as though Hamas werent a terrorist organization and Israel werent the United States strongest ally in the Middle East. His conduct in recent days raises serious doubts over his comprehension of regional events, writes Ravid.
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In rejecting the offer, Israel splattered an egg on Kerrys beleaguered face, writes Chemi Shalev. Israeli officials criticized the secretary for capitulating to Qatari cease-fire provisions, and questioned his ability to master the complex array of players and conflicting interests that need to come together in order to make a cease-fire stick. He may be the foreign minister of the still indispensable United States, but Kerry is coming across as a hapless nebbish, writes Shalev.
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In order to reach a cease-fire, Haaretzs editorial writes, Israel will have to soften its stance on its blockade of the Gaza Strip. Israel, which has always claimed that it is not at war with Gazas citizens, does not have the right to turn the brutal blockade – which has not proved its effectiveness – into a political weapon, it says, adding that an agreement must also be reached on the principle of reopening the Rafah crossing, which is controlled by Egypt.
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