July 28, 2014
Joseph Klien, FPM
President Obama is seeking to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into agreeing to an immediate unconditional ceasefire. In a phone call on Sunday, Obama reportedly told the Israeli prime minister that such a ceasefire was “a strategic imperative.” Obama specifically referred to the ceasefire proposed by Secretary of State John Kerry, which Israel’s security cabinet rejected unanimously last Friday.
Israel has been willing to observe several humanitarian pauses, primarily on a unilateral basis. Hamas went along with one 24-hour pause during the first part of the weekend and then resumed its rocket firings. After Hamas proposed its own additional 24-hour pause on Sunday, which Israel was willing to accept, Hamas nevertheless kept firing its rockets.
Kerry’s proposal was inadequate to protect Israel’s security concerns. It would have left the remaining tunnels used by Hamas to infiltrate Israel in place, which Israel simply could not accept. According to a leaked draft document of the proposal that both Aljazeera and Haaretz were reported to have obtained, Kerry’s ceasefire proposal skirted the specific concerns raised by Israel about allowing the tunnels to remain intact and letting Hamas keep its weapons stockpiles. Instead, it focused on opening the border crossings, with no specific security monitoring plan in place to ensure that Hamas would not build up its military capabilities even further. It called for the “withdrawal of IDF from Gaza Strip” and the end to any “military or security targeting of each other.” With the IDF gone and no more “security targeting,” that means the tunnels and remaining rockets would stay put for Hamas’s later use.
Moreover, under the Kerry proposal, the parties would begin discussing, within 48 hours of cessation of fighting, much of the Hamas agenda:
“arrangements to secure the opening of border and non-border crossings, allow the entry of goods and people and ensure the social and economic livelihood of the Palestinian people living in Gaza, including fishing rights up to 12nm, transfer funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries for public employees, and address security issues.”
After Kerry continued his discussions in Paris with foreign ministers from two of the leading Hamas supporting countries, Turkey and Qatar, President Obama tried to put the squeeze on Prime Minister Netanyahu to effectively leave the Israeli people exposed to more rocket fire and Hamas infiltration into Israel from their remaining intact tunnels. Obama and Kerry are so eager to seek peace at any cost that they evidently did not include representatives from Egypt or even from the Palestinian Authority in the high level Paris discussions. As a result, even the Palestinian Authority is disgusted with the Obama administration. Walid Assad, one of the spokespersons of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, complained of Kerry’s “appeasement” of Qatar and Turkey.
The Obama administration’s deference to Qatar, home to a major U.S. air base, is no doubt motivated in part by all the money that Qatar has committed just recently to spend on purchasing Apache attack helicopters, Patriot missile defense batteries and anti-tank Javelin missiles. An …read more