As mediators try to put the finishing touches on the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, both sides continue to press for last minute changes to get everything they want out of the deal. Responding to yesterday’s Hamas proposal for a year-long, renewable ceasefire, the Israeli government seemed unsatisfied, opting instead to push for an open-ended truce with no specific end dates.
The two sides had a six month ceasefire in 2008, which ended shortly before the beginning of the war. Both sides accused the other of violating the ceasefire on numerous occasions, and for the last several weeks of the ceasefire they exchanged cross border attacks, while Israel kept the crossings closed despite one of the key tenets of that ceasefire being that they remained open. When the ceasefire expired, both sides were already gearing up for war.
Hamas is demanding that the crossings reopen as a condition of the ceasefire, and wants Israel’s military to leave the strip. In addition to keeping the new truce from having a specific end day, Israel also wants Hamas to permit the rival Palestinian Authority to take control of the border crossings.
Israel will vote on halting the attacks on the Gaza Strip tomorrow evening, but even if it passes the Israeli military is expected to remain in the strip for an indefinite period of time, which is likely to inflame tensions with Hamas and the rest of the Gaza populace considering those soldiers have killed over 1,100 people in the last three weeks.
By refusing to leave the strip, Israel is also likely to keep Hamas from formally agreeing to the truce, which some analysts suggest may be their goal: a halt of violence without a formal deal, leaving them in control of border crossings.