Israel’s No-Longer Cold Peace with Egypt

July 13 2016

On Sunday, Egypt’s foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, came to Jerusalem and met with the Israeli prime minister. This was the first such high-level visit in nine years. Usually, talks have been conducted with Egyptian intelligence officials and out of the public eye, and have focused on security issues—specifically, containing jihadists in Gaza and Sinai. This very public visit, argues David Makovsky, is a sign that the two countries’ de-facto military alliance could be mutating into a diplomatic one:

Netanyahu has expressed concern that the Obama administration will consider supporting a UN Security Council resolution [about the Israel-Palestinian] conflict at year’s end. He views any such move as the equivalent of an imposed solution . . . that neither Israel nor the Palestinians could accept. Netanyahu is also concerned that a French peace initiative could gather steam and feed into a [similarly troublesome] Security Council resolution. . . .

Netanyahu is likely counting on the pressure [his meeting with Shoukry] creates for Mahmoud Abbas. While the PA president has had no problem rejecting Netanyahu’s call to resume talks, . . . bringing Egypt into the picture raises the cost of any such rejection. . . .

Beyond the Palestinian issue, . . . Shoukry was probably also curious about Netanyahu’s trip to Africa last week. Among other states, he visited Ethiopia, which is planning a Nile dam that could hurt Egypt’s access to the river’s water. Cairo seems to believe that Netanyahu’s visit could impact whether Ethiopia will agree to a water-sharing formula with Egypt.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Egypt, Ethiopia, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy, Peace Process

The Riots on the Gaza Border are Carefully Coordinated Attacks on Israel, and Should Be Treated as Such

Jan. 16 2019

On Friday, the weekly riots at the Gaza security fence resumed in full force: 13,000 people participated, and a Palestinian woman was apparently killed by Israeli gunfire. The UN Human Rights Council (UNHCR) had established a commission of inquiry in May, not long after these riots began, “to investigate all alleged violations and abuses of international humanitarian law and international human-rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, . . . particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests that began on March 20, 2018.” In a report to the commission, Richard Kemp, a retired senior British officer, concludes, after investigating the situation at the Gaza border, that there is no evidence whatsoever of Israeli wrongdoing, and that the commission is operating under faulty assumptions:

The terms of [the commission’s] mandate are self-evidently biased against the state of Israel and the IDF. The context cited—“the military assaults on the large-scale civilian protests”—make clear that the UNHRC either failed to understand what was happening on the ground or deliberately misrepresented the reality. In addition, the commission’s mandate terms the Gaza Strip “Occupied Palestinian Territories,” which it is not. . . .

[T]he so-called “civilian protests” in reality were, and continue to be, a deliberate military operation, orchestrated and controlled by Hamas, [a] terrorist group that has been waging an armed conflict against Israel for many years. Their intention was and remains to kill and wound IDF soldiers, to break through the border fence, to murder and maim innocent civilians, to destroy property, and to compel the IDF to take defensive action resulting in the death of Gaza civilians for exploitation in the international arena. [Israel’s] “military assaults” were not what was implied by this prejudicial mandate. They were in fact lawful, proportionate, and restrained defensive actions. . . .

Suggestions that these demonstrations are [protests] against Israeli policy toward the Gaza Strip are demonstrably false and easily refuted by cursory viewing of Hamas and other public statements made at the time of the events. . . . Further, it is clear that Hamas intended this violence to continue its long-standing strategy of creating and intensifying international outrage, vilification, isolation, and criminalization of the state of Israel and its officials. . . .

[T]he starkest indication that these events were entirely under Hamas control is the simple fact that, when it suited Hamas’s political interests, the [demonstrations] occurred and were of a violent nature, and when such actions did not serve Hamas’s interests, the border was quiet. As the most recent example of this, in November 2018, Qatar began to make large cash payments to Hamas in Gaza. The most recent payment of $15 million was handed over in December 2018. These payments are reportedly part of an agreement with Hamas to diminish violence along the Gaza border. [After] the first payment, the border violence [was] reduced [and the] demonstrations [became] far more restrained.

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Read more at Colonel Richard Kemp

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, IDF, Israel & Zionism, Laws of war, UNHRC