[As Israel sleeps?] U.S.Egypt and Syria push for deployment of Arab armies in Gaza Strip

[Dr. Aaron Lerner – IMRA: So here we are at the very time that Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has focused on demilitarization as a critical
feature of a Palestinian state and the U.S., Egypt and Syria are all working
on arranging for the deployment of military forces from Egypt, the Emirates,
Saudi Arabia, Morocco and other Arab countries in the Gaza Strip.

One shudders to think that historians may later note the tremendous irony
that the seeds for a major Arab-Israeli war were sown this week because the
Israelis were so caught up with finding a way out of the confrontation with
Obama over settlement construction etc. that they never gave much thought to
this development.

And it doesn’t take much thinking to realize how deploying military forces
from Egypt, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and other Arab countries in
the Gaza Strip could lead to war.

In point of fact, it is insulting the intelligence of Hamas to assert that
they couldn’t come up with a way to manipulate the presence of such a force
in order to create a series of events that plunges the Arab states into war
with the Jewish State.

Is the Netanyahu team asleep at the switch?

Repeated attempts by IMRA to get official responses regarding this proposal
have consistently been met with a refusal to address “speculative news
reports” about proposals.]

Egypt, Syria increase pressure on Hamas to seal agreement with Fatah
By Akiva Eldar Haaretz Last update – 01:12 16/06/2009

Egypt and Syria have upped their pressure on Hamas in recent days, in
support of a reconciliation agreement with Fatah. The deal would include a
multinational Arab force in the Gaza Strip that would operate in parallel to
joint Fatah-Hamas security forces.

An Egyptian source told Haaretz that the American administration is aware of
the plan’s details and apparently special envoy George Mitchell has asked
the Damascus government to use its influence over Hamas to push the plan and
the Quartet conditions. The Americans promised the Syrians that if they take
on a positive role in the Palestinian channel, the U.S. would act to resume
negotiations in the Syrian track.

The Hamas-Fatah reconciliation plan includes the creation of a joint
dozen-member committee, to be under Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud
Abbas’ indirect authority. The committee, only authorized to act in Gaza,
would be in charge of post-Operation Cast Lead reconstruction, government
reforms, and preparations for the January 2010 presidential and legislative
council elections. All factions would undertake to honor the election
results and allow the elected government to rule in both Gaza and the West

Military forces from Egypt, the Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and other
Arab countries would assist local forces in maintaining order until and
throughout those elections. The plan is expected to increase pressure on
Israel to open border crossings and to push a deal for the release of
kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit forward. The Egyptian source noted that Hamas
had not deviated from its position regarding the number and identity of
prisoners to be released in exchange for Shalit.

According to the source, the main obstacle to the plan is the refusal of
Hamas’ leadership to accept Abbas’ authority. However, Egypt did announce a
July 7 deadline for the deal. Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, who met
last week in Damascus with Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal, told
Haaretz he believes Meshal is very interested in reaching a deal before the

As part of the feverish activity to reach an agreement, Meshal met last week
in Cairo with Egyptian intelligence head Gen. Omar Suleiman. A senior Fatah
delegation also visited Cairo a few days ago.

Since U.S. President Barack Obama’s Cairo speech earlier this month, Hamas
has seemed more distressed and shown signs of a willingness for greater
flexibility. Meshal praised Obama’s speech, saying that Hamas would not
constitute an obstacle to talks.

By contrast, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech on Sunday met with
derogatory responses from Hamas. The organization’s Gaza spokesman, Fawzi
Barhoum, said the speech expressed “extreme and racist” ideology and offered
no new policy.