Posted: 19 Nov 2012 09:46 AM PST
The big news over the weekend was that Israel did not launch a ground invasion of Gaza. Israel says it held off on the invasion to allow time for efforts at reaching a long-term cease-fire to continue. But Israel has also said that, although it prefers a diplomatic solution, any agreement must erase the threat of rocket attacks against Israel’s southern residents.
This would seem to be an obvious point. It makes no sense for Israel to back down without having obtained real protection for its citizens.
Unfortunately, the goal of securing southern Israel from rocket attack cannot be achieved through an agreement. Promises by Hamas to stop launching rockets would be meaningless after a few months. The same is true of promises by others to stop supplying Hamas with rockets; nor would be most dangerous party, Iran, be a party to such an agreement. And it is difficult to imagine an inspection regime that would accomplish Israel’s objectives, much less one that Hamas would agree to absent a crushing military defeat.
Accordingly, Israel must either finish the military job it started, which would accomplish its security objective for a few years anyway, or leave its southern citizens vulnerable to bombardment in the short term.
A cease fire agreement at this juncture, then, would represent another failed effort by Israel to obtain security from its weaker enemies, even as its only powerful enemy moves ever closer to developing a nuclear weapons capability.
As Hillary heads to Israel, reports are that she is THREATENING ISRAEL that if they go in on the ground, USA will SLOW resupply of spare parts for Iron Dome.
President Obama spoke out on the fighting yesterday, saying Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas's missile attacks from Gaza. But he urged Israel not to launch a ground assault in Gaza, saying it would put Israeli soldiers, as well as Palestinian citizens, at greater risk and hamper an already vexing peace process.
"If we see a further escalation of the situation in Gaza, the likelihood of us getting back on any kind of peace track that leads to a two-state solution is going to be pushed off way into the future," Obama said.
This public statement will only strengthen Hamas's determination to continue its rocket terrorism and reap the propaganda benefits from Israeli retaliatory air strikes, because the President's statement lowers the perceived risks of an Israeli ground intervention. Moreover, it is continued Palestinian terrorism that is the chief barrier to peace, not Israel's legitimate efforts to protect its own citizens from indiscriminate Palestinian terrorist attacks.
Egypt, Turkey, and the Arab League have heavily criticized Israel and called for a halt of air strikes. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and hopes to pull in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood-dominated regime to tilt the balance against Israel. Egypt’s government will seek to have its cake and eat it, too, in the sense that it will use the crisis to denounce Israel, support Hamas, and play to anti-Israeli sentiments at home while trying to mediate a ceasefire behind the scenes that enhances its influence and justifies continued U.S. and Western aid.
If they genuinely wanted to stop the bloodshed, then these leaders should pressure Hamas to stop the bombardment, which triggered the crisis.
Obama, too, should aim primarily at restraining Hamas, not Israel.
Hamas, as usual, is bent on advancing its radical Islamist agenda at the expense of Palestinian national interests. It is a revolutionary movement more interested in destroying Israel than in building a Palestinian state or protecting Palestinians from another humanitarian tragedy that it has engineered.
Israel has called up 75,000 reservists and massed armor and at least 30,000 troops along the border, underscoring that it is serious about launching a ground intervention if Hamas continues its indiscriminate bombardment of Israeli civilians.
The U.S. needs to stand with Israel against terrorism and support its right to defend itself against a ruthless enemy that hides among Palestinian civilians to launch rockets indiscriminately at Israeli civilians. Hamas routinely uses children as shields. There can be no Israeli–Palestinian peace until Hamas and other Islamists are defeated and discredited.
James Phillips is the Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation. He has written extensively on Middle Eastern issues and international terrorism since 1978.