Is Hamas this week's big loser?the final nails in Hamas' coffin.
Hamas has now committed diplomatic suicide. The Islamic Resistance Movement is about to undergo the humiliating procedure of having its weapons extracted. It is unlikely to survive the operation in its current form.The M-75 and Fajr-5 rockets aimed at Jerusalem and Tel Aviv last week gave Israel no choice other than to neuter the militant monster now camped on its border. The US and Europe are firmly in agreement.
The eight days of Israel's Operation Pillar of Defence have been hell for the Palestinians in Gaza, but the international community places the blame for their suffering squarely on Hamas. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon this week described Israelis near Gaza as “living in fear and terror,” a situation he described as “unacceptable, irresponsible and reckless.”
I wish I could buy this. I really do. But we've been down this road too many times before.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, announcing the ceasefire on Wednesday, reserved the right to renew military action at any time. "I realize that there are citizens who expect a harsher military action and we may very well need to do that. But at present, the right thing for the State of Israel is to exhaust this possibility of reaching a long-term cease-fire," he said.
If Hamas carries out another attack on Israel or tries to re-arm, Netanyahu's decision not to invade now has given him international backing to wipe out Hamas completely next time around.
"Any serious long-term deal that comes out of this has got to ensure that Hamas is not re-armed," UK Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt told me in Jerusalem on Wednesday.
“We can’t go on as we are. There has to be a sustainable Gaza and that clearly implies that the missiles that are smuggled through the tunnels – that’s got to stop," said Burt. "The only way Gaza can move forward is if it is no longer a base for these sort of attacks and then we can start to think of the future of Gaza another way."
Burt was clear that the entire supply chain from Iran through Sinai via Sudan must be closed down and that the international community would help achieve that.
"Clearly there is a route," Burt told me. "All those involved in the route have an obligation to make sure that this stops and Israel is right to insist upon that.”
European governments agree. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels this week: “We need to find a long-term solution to Gaza. We have to find a way to prevent the kind of violent rocket attacks that we've seen.”
We've been listening to promises to shut down Hamas' weapons supply chains for seven years, and it didn't happen even when Hosni Mubarak - who had much more of an interest an ability to get the job done than Mohammed Morsy has - was in charge in Egypt.
I don't believe the Europeans will back any real Israeli military action if push comes to shove.
And I'm even less inclined to believe that the current administration in Washington is willing to take any action to support us.
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