Secretary of State John Kerry’s push for a ceasefire in Gaza last week was so flawed it managed to unite Israel’s fractious political leadership in opposition while simultaneously being lambasted by the Palestinian Authority.
The proposal called for negotiations on Hamas demands, including opening border crossings into Gaza and relaxed boating restrictions off the Gaza coast. In addition, its language reportedly upgraded Hamas – a designated terrorist organization – to an equal plane with Israel. Then, President Obama called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday to make “clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now and leads to a permanent cessation of hostilities based on the November 2012 ceasefire agreement.”
In other words, Obama demanded that Israel institute an immediate unilateral ceasefire even while Hamas continues its terrorist operations against Israel. True to form, Hamas escalated its attacks on Monday.
A mortar attack on the community of Eshkol near the Gaza border killed four Israeli civilians and wounded nine others, five of whom were in critical condition. At the same time, a squad of heavily-armed Hamas terrorists emerged from a tunnel near Kibbutz Nahal Oz in an attempt to carry out a mass murder attack. The Israeli military killed one terrorist and is searching for the others.
The U.S. response? In addition to more demands that Israel stop trying to root out the Hamas terror infrastructure in Gaza, administration officials Monday expressed anger that the Israelis would leak details of the proposed ceasefire and criticize Kerry.
This overlooks an important fact – Kerry’s proposal also angered the Palestinian Authority – with a senior official telling London-based Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that…
“Kerry wanted to create a framework that would be an alternative to the Egyptian initiative and to our concept regarding it, in order to please Qatar and Turkey.” The move would strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood’s stature, the PA official said, “because the Americans think – and will be proven wrong – that that moderate political Islam represented by the Muslim Brotherhood can combat radical Islam…”
U.S. officials continue to pressure Israel, which already has accepted five ceasefires. All of them were broken by Hamas.
Reports out of Israel say Kerry’s proposal did nothing to help identify and dismantle Hamas tunnels or strip it of its remaining rocket arsenal. Israel’s security cabinet quickly and unanimously rejected it.
An unnamed senior U.S. official briefed Israeli reporters Sunday night, claiming the proposal is being misrepresented. “There was no Kerry plan,” the official said. “There was a concept based on the Egyptian cease-fire plans that Israel had signed off on.”
Kerry’s disastrous idea, giving Hamas a clear diplomatic win at a time it had nothing to show but devastation for a fight it started, drew perverse praise.
If there are suggestions for a better way for Israel to unearth the tunnels and to stop the rocket fire emanating from crammed neighborhoods surrounded by civilians, by all means, offer them up.
But let’s not pretend that this conflict can be resolved by giving Hamas what it wants.
~ Steve Emerson
“Do you want to recognize Israel as a Jewish state?” Rose asked.
“No,” Meshaal said. After a long pause, he added, “I said I do not want to live with a state of occupiers.” To Hamas, as its charter makes clear, all of Israel is occupied Palestinian land. There can be no peace until Hamas either gives up on its founding principle to destroy Israel or until it is removed from power and influence.
Kerry may be feeling some of the sting from all the criticism. In new remarks Monday, he emphasized the need to disarm Hamas.
But he has lost tremendous credibility with those elements who stand opposed to Hamas and its benefactors in Qatar and Turkey. “Jerusalem,” writes Horovitz, “now regards him as duplicitous and dangerous.”
If he really cares about generating a lasting peace, his next, best move might be resignation. As for President Obama, he might start to educate himself about Hamas’ horrific murderous actions and agenda before approving a plan that allows this al-Qaida clone to resurrect itself after being seriously wounded by defensive Israeli actions.
Pushing a ceasefire that accentuates Hamas demands could not be more counterproductive.
Steven Emerson is executive director of the Investigative Project on Terrorism (IPT)