Belmont Club

Saved by the bell

Reports from the Daily Telegraph suggest that the Olmert government is considering ceasefire negotiations. It is said to include provisions which will stop arms shipments into Gaza and prevent rocket firings into Israel. However, the bottom line to the proposals is that Hamas apparently survives.

Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, will send a senior envoy, Amos Gilad, to Cairo to scrutinise the proposal put forward by Egypt and France.

But Israel sought to keep up pressure on Hamas by announcing yesterday its war cabinet had authorised preparations for a third and more devastating phase of the offensive on Gaza which would involve raids on urban areas.

Omar Suleiman, the powerful Egyptian intelligence chief, is believed to have persuaded representatives of the Hamas leadership to also provisionally accept the plan.

Israel is buoyed by what it sees as a successful military assault on Hamas members and infrastructure in Gaza and wants to make sure any ceasefire contains two key elements.

These are an arms embargo on Hamas, meaning international monitors on Gaza’s Egyptian border to stop smuggling, and a complete end to the firing of rockets at Israel from Gaza.

I predict that these guarantees will be as effective as those now in place to prevent Hezbollah from re-arming in Lebanon. Less than 3 years after 2006 war in Lebanon, the NYT reports that “Israeli officials have repeatedly complained that the presence of the peacekeepers and the deployment of the Lebanese Army to southern Lebanon in August 2006 have failed to prevent Hezbollah from rearming. Hezbollah’s leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, has said that the group has rearmed and is better prepared than ever to fight Israel.” Why am I not surprised?

If Hamas survives, the “ceasefire” will be just another break for reammunitioning. I would like to be wrong, but I don’t think I will be.

Maybe they’re playing this record at Hamas’ headquarters.

I cried for you, I cried for you
I cried for two, I lied for you
Saved by the bell on your own carousel

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