Barak Favors Gaza Ceasefire Terms, Netanyahu Opposes

Egypt Draft Rejects Israeli Demand for Bigger Buffer Zone

by Jason Ditz, November 20, 2012

The latest draft agreement on a cease to Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip has split the Israeli cabinet, with Defense Minister Ehud Barak believing the deal should be accepted, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman believe Israel can hold out for a better deal.

Taking both Israeli and Hamas demands under advisement, Egypt’s Mursi government penned a compromise draft, a pact which would oblige Hamas to keep other groups from firing rockets, while at the same time offering a loosening of the Israeli blockade.

What it didn’t include, however, was the Israeli demand to impose an even bigger “buffer zone” inside the tiny strip, which has now been confirmed to be a 500 meter “no-go” area across all of Gaza’s border with Israel.

Israel has already imposed a de facto 300 meter buffer, but with the strip only a few kilometers long, the increase would cut a meaningful chunk of territory out of the already packed strip, and much of it farmland.

The question of whether this pact is as good as Israel can get is unclear. Many officials seem to believe that continuing the air strikes will force Egypt to give in on key issues, while some warn that with the Mubarak regime gone and international sentiment squarely against the air strikes, prolonging the war is only going to damage Israel’s image, and won’t change the ultimate deal.

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