A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
January 19, 2009--Ceasefire Holds, Feeling in the Arab World-Iran and Syria Lost This Round
The ceasefire in Gaza is holding. Israel is rapidly withdrawing its troops from Gaza. The goal seems to be to have them completely withdrawn by Tuesday, noon Washington time, which is the time President elect Obama will be sworn into office. There have been no significant violations of the ceasefire since yesterday.
Today there was an Arab summit in Kuwait. It is seen as a victory of the moderates. The center point of the ceasefire was the pledge by Saudi Arabia to donate $1 billion to rebuild Gaza. The Saudi promise, which was carefully coordinated with Egypt, will be given through the Palestinian Authority and not through Hamas. The speeches at the conference, particularly Egypt's, were an attack on Iran's position of endless struggle. Instead, the moderates suggested that there are other ways of accomplishing the Arab goals.
Israeli officials note that there has been a very significant change in Egypt's attitude toward the smuggling. They believe that Egypt is now taking the smuggling very seriously and consider Hamas a severe threat to themselves. The days of prevaricating about their relations with Hamas are over. The view from the Arab summit was that Iran and Syria clearly have lost this round and their position in the Arab world has been seriously hurt.
At the same time, representative of the European Union announced that the EU will not provide any support for rebuilding Gaza as long as Hamas rules. There is clearly an international effort to further isolate and weaken Hamas. In Gaza, as people head out of their homes for the first time, the extent of the devastation is now becoming very clear. Hamas is trying to claim victory, but without even the symbolic victory of destroying a tank or downing a helicopter, that has proven very difficult.