Hopes And Hazards Of A Cease-Fire: A View From Gaza City

For a Gazan perspective on the prospect of a cease-fire, Robert Siegel talks to Mukhaimer Abu Sada, a political scientist at Al-Azhar University. They discuss the Israeli air strikes in Gaza and what must happen before fighting settles.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

And now to Gaza City where Mukhaimer Abu Sada is a professor of political science at Al-Azhar University. Welcome to the program once again, Professor Abu Sada.

MUKHAIMER ABU SADA: My pleasure to be with you, sir.

SIEGEL: And recalling our last conversation, I think that you and Ambassador Oren agree on one thing, which is that if a cease-fire is to be negotiated, it's probably going to involve Egypt. Does Hamas want the Egyptians to get involved?

ABU SADA: Well, definitely. Hamas is aware of the fact that most cease-fires can't be brokered without Egypt. Egypt has been in charge of the Palestinian cause since 1948, and Hamas is aware of the fact that the only way to exit Gaza is through Egypt. So basically, Hamas does want the Egyptians to intervene. But the problem is that the Egyptians do not trust Hamas. Hamas, for the Egyptian new regime, is a hostile entity after the Muslim Brotherhood was classified as a terrorist organization in Egypt. And Hamas is an offshoot of this Brotherhood organization.

SIEGEL: Can you imagine Hamas agreeing to terms that would amount to some supervised disarmament of rocket supplies in Gaza similar to what was negotiated over chemical weapons in Syria?

ABU SADA: It's a difficult call, but in my opinion, we don't really need all of this long-range missiles. We don't really need all of that ammunition. I mean, at the end of the day, we want to live as a normal people. And I think if Hamas can get guarantees that the siege and blockade against Gaza is going to be lifted completely and Hamas were allowed to breathe, I think they might agree to some kind of disarmament. But that doesn't mean that Hamas has to disarm all of its infrastructure. At the end of the day, Hamas might agree to disarming its medium- and long-range missiles. But that doesn't mean that Israel will have to strip Hamas of all of its weapons or military infrastructure.

SIEGEL: If the opening-up, say, of the crossing into Egypt or of the lifting of Israel's blockade - if all that were to be phased and conditional upon certain conditions being met at each phase, is that something that you think Hamas might be willing to do, or must there be some instant lifting to satisfy Hamas?

ABU SADA: Well, let me put it this way; that this is not the first time we are going to see a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel. There was a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel in November of 2012, and the terms of the cease-fire, which Hamas accepted, is to stop aggression against Israel. Hamas, for the first time, accepted that it swore again that Israel is in aggression - and it's not a resistance against Israeli occupation. So I don't find it impossible for Hamas to accept a new cease-fire rather than keep fighting Israel again and again with no results.

SIEGEL: Professor Abu Sada, thank you very much for talking with us today.

ABU SADA: It's my pleasure to be with you, sir.

SIEGEL: That's Professor Mukhaimer Abu Sada, political scientist at Al-Azhar University in Gaza City. He spoke to us from Gaza. We also heard from Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to the United States.

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