Jerusalem – It appears that Israel will not accept the Egyptian proposal for a “hudna” (or temporary treaty) in the Gaza Strip.
All of the Palestinian terror groups announced that they would agree to a six-month hudna in the Gaza Strip, with the expectation that the siege on Gaza would be lifted. The Egyptians undertook to try to persuade Israel to extend the hudna to the West Bank as well.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday telephoned Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak and said that additional mediation work would be necessary. If Defense Minister Barak and Prime Minister Olmert agree, Egyptian Director of Intelligence Gen. Omar Suleiman will come to Israel to present the agreement, which the Egyptians and the Palestinians have described as a “breakthrough.”
Nonetheless, it is unlikely that Israel will accept the proposals that have been worked out by Egypt.
Israeli intelligence Director Yuval Diskin informed the security cabinet that while Hamas had agreed to commit to a hudna with Israel only in the Gaza Strip and not in the West Bank, as Israel had demanded, Hamas officials have refused to commit themselves to ending their arms smuggling and their development of longer-range rockets that will put central Israel within range. They also have insisted that it is their right to launch attacks against Israeli troops stationed near the border fence. Mr. Diskin said he believed that the Palestinian organizations were interested in a lull in order to refresh their forces and to prepare for the possibility of a large-scale Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip.
Israel Public Security Minister Avi Dichter criticized Mr. Olmert and Mr. Barak for failing to provide the Israeli security cabinet with a full picture of talks with Egypt.
“We need to reach a truce from a departure point of deterrence, and not from a position in which Hamas perceives calm as a tactical-operational act,” said Mr. Dichter.
The prevalent assumption is that Mr. Olmert and Mr. Barak are on the same wavelength and intend to reject the Egyptian proposal. At the same time, however, they do not want Israel to be perceived as having refused a hudna, which is perceived by many as a step toward peace.
“Hudna” is often translated as the Arabic word for “armistice” or the kind of cease-fire that ended World War I in 1918, two years before the terms of a formal treaty were agreed to.
However, the Arabic concept of “hudna” connotes no more than a temporary respite in the war between Islamic forces and non-Islamic forces.
The Islamic Encyclopedia (London, 1922) defines “hudna” as a “temporary treaty” that can be abrogated by Islamic religious leaders. A hudna cannot last for more than 10 years.
That same Islamic Encyclopedia article mentions the Hudaybia treaty as the ultimate “hudna.”
“The Hudaybia treaty, concluded by the Prophet Muhammad with the unbelievers of Mecca in 628, provided a precedent for subsequent treaties which the Prophet’s successors made with non-Muslims. Muhammad made a hudna with a tribe of Jews back then to give him time to grow his forces, then broke the treaty and wiped them out. Although this treaty was violated within three years from the time that it was concluded, most [Muslim] jurists concur that the maximum period of peace with the enemy should not exceed 10 years, since it was originally agreed that the Hudaybia treaty should last 10 years.”
Yasser Arafat also talked about a “hudna” when he referred to the Oslo Accords.
Abdullah To Olmert: Make Agreement With Palestinians This Year
It has been disclosed that King Abdullah of Jordan met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert earlier this week in the Jordanian capital of Amman to discuss a timetable for the negotiations with the Palestinians.
“Reaching an agreement requires moving matters ahead on the basis of clear principles and a specific timetable,” said the king. “It is important that the talks between the sides achieve an agreement before the end of 2008 on the basis of the principle of two states for two peoples and the Annapolis conference declarations.”
However, sources in the prime minister’s office now say that no agreement will be reached by the end of 2008 and the end of President George Bush’s term in office.
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas returned from his meetings in the White House last week feeling distraught, and he voiced his concerns in conversations he held with King Abdullah of Jordan, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
Israeli Minister Livni To Share Intelligence About Iran To British
This coming weekend, for the first time, Israel and Britain will discuss holding high political level cooperation with respect to the Iranian nuclear threat.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is meeting on Friday in London with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Livni is accompanied by senior members of Israel’s intelligence community, some of whom were party to the strategic dialogue meetings that were held in Washington on Tuesday. British intelligence officials and representatives of the secret services will also attend the meetings.
Israel and Britain will exchange classified information about the progress that has been made in the Iranian nuclear program and will focus on finding ways to intensify the sanctions against Tehran following the third U.N. Security Council resolution on the matter. It was the Britons who asked to hold the meeting. They wanted to know whether Israel would be prepared to engage in dialogue on this subject and received a response in the affirmative.
David Bedein can be reached at Media@actcom.co.il. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com
©The Bulletin 2008