|Israel’s embattled prime minister
The Egypt-brokered truce agreement just struck has resulted in two shifts in the underlying political forces in that area.
The first shift is a de facto recognition by Israel of the pan-Palestinian government that Abbas had set in place, as Zvi Bar'elwrites in Haaretz:
But this is just a preliminary agreement. The important agreement will come in another month, when both sides return to Cairo to negotiate over core issues like a port and airport, prisoner releases and Gaza’s reconstruction. Over the coming month, the cease-fire’s stability will be tested, and that is the innovation in yesterday’s agreement: The truce is of unlimited duration.
Thus for the first time, Israel has agreed to a confidence-building process with the Palestinian government to which Hamas and Islamic Jihad are also parties.
The negotiations won’t be direct, but this is clearly a pan-Palestinian agreement with Israel.
Thus Israel has not only recognized the Palestinian unity government, but also acknowledged that Gaza and the West Bank can no longer be separated. Without these two facts, neither yesterday’s deal nor those to follow would have any practical meaning. Effectively, Israel has recognized Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups as an inseparable part of the Palestinian polity with which it will also have to conduct broader diplomatic negotiations in the future.
The second major change is that the Israeli cabinet is not united around the truce itself. Some reports suggest that the Israeli prime minister did not call for a vote on the truce from cabinet members because it might not have passed.
Political rumblings began within the Israeli government Tuesday evening after a long-term ceasefire with Hamas went into effect at 7pm local time and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett called for a Cabinet vote on the decision, citing that ministers hadn’t been consulted about the deal.
According to Bennett, the decision had been made exclusively by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cabinet members were only updated on the decision by telephone.
The Cabinet appeared to be split on the deal, with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Interior Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich, and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, and Communications Minister Gilad Erdan opposing the decision, and supporting further military action in Gaza.
If the ceasefire does not result in peace, the Israeli prime minister will find his political career under attack. A significant breach of the truce could lead to a new prime minister.