A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
January 16, 2009--Day Twenty One of War with Hamas, No Official Ceasefire but War Nears End
The 21st day of the war has come to an end. There was no official ceasefire today between Israel and Hamas. Despite that, the feeling among Israeli observers today was that it is all but over. The IDF has reached all of its major goals, and negotiations are going forward to conclude the war. On Saturday night the Israeli cabinet is most likely to agree to a one sided ceasefire. It seems that the goal is to reach a ceasefire over the heads of Hamas.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Livni signed an agreement with US Secretary of State Rice for the United States to become actively involved in stopping the flow of arms to Hamas. The UK, France and Germany will be joining the US. This alone of course will not stop the flow of weapons, but it is one stop and it also officially recognizes Israel's right to take unilateral actions. According to reports, Israel and Egypt have also reached a satisfactory agreement on Egypt's efforts to stop arms smuggling.
While an indirect agreement has not been reached between Israel and Hamas, with Hamas seemingly hardening their position, this seems to be irrelevant since Egypt and Israel is willing to enter a ceasefire with the Palestinian Authority while ignoring Hamas for the moment. There is talk of a three-way summit between Mubark, Olmert and Abbas next week to sign an agreement. In Gaza itself there is a clear sense that Hamas will need to use an iron fist to maintain control fo the population which is clearly fed up with it.
In the meantime, the IDF in Gaza has been following a dual strategy. On one hand the IDF is creating defensive positions from which it can place its forces when a ceasefire is reached. According to current plans, the IDF will remain in place until a more comprehensive agreement is reached. Meanwhile, the IDF is making concerted raids on specific locations in Gaza City. Yesterday it was reported that the entire force of 100 Iranain trained fighters was decimated by the IDF in ground fighting.
Israeli observers noted tonight that if a ceasefire begins within the next day, this will be first time since 1967 that a War in Israel will end without a tragedy for the IDF or its forces.
One clear result of the war is a clearer than ever split in the Arab world. Two meetings took place today, one in Qatar with the leaders of the rejectionist states and the other in Kuwait led by the Foreign Minister of Egypt. The Qatar meeting was attended by Ahmadinajad of Iran, Assad of Syria, Meshal of Hamas and the leader of Iraq and Algeria. Ahmadinajad claimed that the Israeli attack was a conspiracy planned together with Obama. The pragmatists all stated their support for the Egyptian plan.