Israel's Armistice with Hamas, Growing Tensions with Abbas

(Washington Institute for Near East Policy) Ehud Yaari - The Palestinian Authority is committed to rejecting the U.S. plan and wants Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to resume peace negotiations under Russian auspices. Yet Israel is unlikely to replace White House mediation with the Kremlin's. In Gaza, Hamas is inching closer to a separate set of understandings with Israel to stabilize the turbulent situation there, establish a fragile long-term ceasefire, and usher in a generous package of economic programs. PA and Hamas leaders have been exchanging highly emotional public pleas for speedy Palestinian reconciliation, hoping to unify the ranks before the U.S. plan is released. So far, however, they are stubbornly avoiding any concessions that would help end the 12-year split between Gaza and the West Bank, and reconciliation talks are at a dead end. Ironically, even as Hamas and Fatah denounce each other's contacts with Israel, both are pursuing dialogue with Netanyahu's team. The PA has preserved effective security cooperation with Israeli military and intelligence agencies as well as close coordination on economic issues. The top Hamas leader in Gaza, Yahya al-Sinwar, spent 22 years in Israeli jails, speaks fluent Hebrew, and follows the Israeli media religiously, so he understands that Netanyahu's response to another major confrontation would be far more devastating than in 2014. Meanwhile, Hamas has lost most of its cross-border attack tunnels into Israel and is struggling to maintain its rocket arsenal after Egypt cut its smuggling routes through the Sinai Peninsula. The writer is a fellow with The Washington Institute and a veteran commentator for Israeli television.

2019-04-25 00:00:00

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