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A slightly edited version of this article first appeared at LobeLog. It’s the best resource on the web for analysis of US foreign policy. Please check it out. 

The two ceasefire proposals aimed at ending the accelerated violence in Gaza and Israel offer one of the best illustrations of the

Relatives and friends of the al-Kaware family carry 7 bodies to the mosque during their funeral in Khan Yunis, in the Gaza Strip, on July 9, 2014. The father, a member of the Fatah movement, and his 6 sons were all killed the day before in an Israeli air strike that targeted their home. Credit: AFP/Thomas Coexthomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images/Used under a Creative Commons license

Relatives and friends of the al-Kaware family carry 7 bodies to the mosque during their funeral in Khan Yunis, in the Gaza Strip, on July 9, 2014. The father, a member of the Fatah movement, and his 6 sons were all killed the day before in an Israeli air strike that targeted their home. Credit: AFP/Thomas Coexthomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images/Used under a Creative Commons license

Israel-Palestine conflict one could ask for. The circumstances and the content of each proposal demonstrate very well why outside pressure is necessary to end this vexing, seemingly endless struggle and just how differently Israelis and Palestinians view both current events and the conflict as a whole.

Let’s look at the two proposals. Egypt, acting as the United States normally does, worked out the details of their ceasefire idea with Israel primarily. The deal reflects the Israeli and Egyptian agenda: it mostly follows the formula of “quiet for quiet,” essentially bringing back the status quo ante of early June. It offers Hamas a vague promise of future negotiations to address the siege of the Strip. But this is hardly something Hamas will put stock in. The 2012 ceasefire agreement, which was negotiated by then-Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi, a man much friendlier to Hamas than the current Egyptian leadership, also made such a promise and it never came to anything. Finally, Egypt says it is willing to open the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt more widely but only if Hamas allows PA security to police it instead of their own people. (more…)

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An edited version of this piece originally appeared at LobeLog

The fighting in Gaza will continue for some time, as a ceasefire agreement brokered by Egypt fell apart. Despite the bellicose

The remains of the Ministry of Interior’s Civilian Affairs office after Israeli bombardments in Gaza City, November 2012. UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan

The remains of the Ministry of Interior’s Civilian Affairs office after Israeli bombardments in Gaza City, November 2012. UN Photo/Shareef Sarhan

language Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has employed over the past week, it was Hamas and not Israel that rejected the proposal. This was, to be sure, the direct result of that proposal not meeting any of Hamas’ demands for a ceasefire and, because as one Israeli official put it, “…we discovered we’d made a cease-fire agreement with ourselves.” The dynamics of this turn of events are important and tell us much of how the ground has changed in the region.

We first must ask why Hamas rejected the Egyptian proposal. They have been rather clear about their reasons:

  • One, Hamas felt, quite correctly, that Egypt had essentially negotiated this deal with Israel, then presented it as a fait accompli to Hamas. In fact, they said they first heard about it through social media.
  • Two, Hamas has declared that they intend to come out of this round of fighting with some gains. In particular, they want to see the siege that Israel has imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2007, the release of all the prisoners who had been re-arrested recently after being freed in exchange for Hamas freeing Gilad Shalit in 2011, and the negotiation of a long term truce, as was agreed in 2012, but never acted upon. The terms of the proposal offered no such relief, or any real change to the status quo.
  • Three, many among Hamas and other groups believe this proposal was deliberately put forth by Egypt as one Israel would accept and Hamas would reject, in order to legitimize further attacks on Gaza. The way things have unfolded, they may very well be correct.

(more…)

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This article originally appeared at LobeLog.

When is a coup not a coup? When calling it that carries repercussions that make a bad situation worse.

US President Barack Obama is struggling with recent events in Egypt. Once again he’s presented with a situation in the Middle East where he has few good options but is still facing expectations based on a long history of US influence over events — an influence that is no longer situated in reality.

In contrast to the revolution that deposed Hosni Mubarak two years ago, the ouster of Mohammed Morsi raises some profound questions, not only for foreign powers, but for Egyptians themselves. There is no doubt that Morsi brought a lot of this on himself. He neglected the major issue for almost all Egyptians, the economy; he shamelessly tried to grab dictatorial powers; he did not follow through on his campaign promises to include the widest spectrum of Egyptians in his government; and, when confronted with all of this, he remained obstinate. (more…)

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Once again, Egypt is in turmoil. Some of the characteristics of the current upheaval are similar to that of two years ago, but there are many differences. Still, the immediate outcome is largely the same, with the military taking over and promising to shepherd in a new civilian government, which it says will reflect the “will of the people.” But this process is even more fraught than the last one, while also holding the potential for a much better outcome. I examine this in Souciant this week.

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I continue to believe that Obama correctly does not want to escalate US involvement in Syria. But the geo-politics are robbing him of options very quickly. I explore at LobeLog.

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