In a meeting with Cabinet members this week, Shin Bet head Nadav Argaman needed to be very careful when forging the impending ceasefire agreement with Hamas – and to ensure that Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas had a prominent role to play in the process. A report on Hadashot News said that Argaman was very “sharp and pointed” in his comments to the ministers, telling them that “pushing Abbas into the corner will strengthen Hamas in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas and prove that terror pays.”
Rushing to close a deal with Hamas for quiet in the southern border area was likely to backfire, Argaman said. “The process will weaken the moderates among the Palestinians and show them that they can get what they want through terror,” and Israelis can expect an uptick in terror attacks. Hadashot News sought comment from the Shin Bet and Cabinet members, but none has been forthcoming.
The comments came on the background of reports that PA chief Mahmoud Abbas has in recent weeks been actively trying to shut down the impending agreement, because he felt that his Fatah terror group was not being given a sufficient role in its implementation and supervision. The PA has been demanding that Hamas hand over control of Gaza, and “without that there will be no agreements. Any ceasefire implemented will not last for any significant length of time.”
According to reports, the deal entails the PA taking over the reins of government in Gaza. Large sums of money will be invested to revive the Gazan economy. Egypt will also agree to leave the Rafiah Crossing open permanently, and Israel will significantly liberalize the list of items it allows to be imported into Gaza.
The ceasefire will last at least one year, and will entail opening a sea route that will allow Gazans to directly import goods from a port in Cyprus, where goods will be inspected and sent directly to a refurbished port in Gaza, instead of to Ashdod, from where they are transported to the Kerem Shalom Crossing and into Gaza.
That latter clause is the one most Israelis are interested in, said Simcha Goldin, father of Hadar Goldin, Hy”d, one of the Israeli soldiers whose remains are being held hostage by Hamas. Since 2014, when Goldin and IDF soldier Oron Shaul, Hy”d, were captured by Hamas, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has promised to make the return of the two soldiers a priority – but they are still being held by Hamas, said Simcha Goldin, and as a result he has developed a cynical attitude to declarations and reports on this issue.
Israeli officials are looking at Friday as the first major test of whether or not there would be an agreement at all. Since March, Hamas has on Fridays held violent riots along the fence, attacking IDF soldiers with rocks and bricks, and launched massive numbers of terror kites and balloons at Israel.
Last Friday, over 9,000 rioters gathered at five points along the Gaza border fence, and threw rocks and firebombs at Israeli troops. Soldiers responded with antiriot measures and used rubber bullets and other measures to disperse the rioting crowds. Gaza sources said that two rioters were killed in the incidents.
Over the past week, the missile attacks that were occurring on a regular basis last week have stopped, and the number of fires due to terror balloons and kites has dropped dramatically (but not stopped). The question among security officials is whether Hamas can resist the “temptation” to hold more riots this Friday, with talk rife of an impending ceasefire with Israel.
Speaking in an interview Thursday, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said that the true test of the ceasefire would be “in the field. There have been and are many initiatives from the world trying to advance the peace process, but with all due respect, we manage things here according to our own interests,” Liberman said in the interview on Radio 103FM.
“We have no interest in starving Gazans, but we say clearly that we will stand on our principles: If there is quiet on the other side, we will have [quiet] and act on our good will towards residents of Gaza. If the quiet is not kept, Gaza residents will be the first to suffer.”