Surprise: Obama forced Netanyahu to accept one-sided pro-Hamas 'cease fire'yet another indication that President Obama (without even the consent of 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President
Obama “commended [Israel’s] Prime Minister for agreeing to the Egyptian ceasefire proposal – which the President recommended the Prime Minster do,” said the 12.31 a.m. EST statement from the White House.It should be clear that the only way Israel agrees to such a one-sided arrangement (although admittedly, it should also infuriate Abu Mazen - see below) is that President Obama forces the Prime Minister's hand. In other words, Bibi caved in again. Why?
The cease-fire terms released by Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s office do not mention any measures to penalize Hamas for launching another wave of rocket attacks against Israel.
“A. Israel should stop all hostilities in the Gaza Strip land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals. … All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel including rocket attacks and all attacks along the border,” said the statement.
The announcement also seems to accept Hamas’s demand for an end to Israeli restrictions on the importation of military-related items into the enclave, and its ban on movement of Hamas’ people from Gaza to the nearby West Bank, which is ruled by an unpopular Arab authority that has curbed attacks against Israel.
“Refraining from restricting residents’ free movements and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire,” said the announcement.
The announcement does not include mechanisms to enforce Hamas’s compliance. “Each party shall commit itself not to perform any acts that would breach this understanding,” said the statement.
The absence of any enforceable terms in an inconclusive cease-fire agreement, which would still prevent Israel’s threatened ground movement into the enclave, will be touted as a victory by Hamas and its allies.
Hamas’ allies wanted to stop an Israeli movement that could have killed many of Hamas’s jihadis and leaders, destroyed more of their hidden weapons and demonstrated their inability to maintain control of their territory.
Also, any cease-fire arrangement without terms is a de facto rejection by the United States and Egypt of Israel’s goals for peace.
Israel’s government had sought new curbs on Hamas’ ability to smuggle rockets and other weapons into the enclave, and for the creation of a kilometer-wide buffer zone between Israel and Gaza. They sought the buffer because local jihadis routinely launch rockets at Israeli border patrols and farmers.
Morsi and Hamas are ideological allies.
Hamas is the Gaza-based affiliate of the international Muslim Brotherhood Islamist movement, which is based in Egypt.
There's an election two months from today. Netanyahu does not want to give his opposition more ammunition about how he has spoiled Israel's relations with the United States - something which is assigned way too high a value here in my humble opinion. Now, suppose Bibi wins. Does he continue to kiss Obama's butt after the election, at least for some period of time. My guess is yes because (a) he wants Obama to strike Iran or at least not veto an Israeli strike and (b) unlike the US, a Prime Minister of Israel has no limit on the number of terms he can serve (Bibi has already served two) but is subject to his government falling at any time. Bibi may be afraid that Obama can bring him down if he's not a good boy.
But Bibi is wrong. As much stock as Israelis put in their relations with the US, they also recognize that there are no good relations to be had with this President. Had Bibi defied Obama, the public would have backed him. The proof? A Channel 2 poll taken before the cease fire went into effect on Wednesday night found that 70% of the Israeli public opposes the cease fire, only 24% favors it, and only 7% believe it will last. And you can bet that most of that 24% was not aware of the provisions I highlighted above. So he caved in to Obama needlessly, at least from a political perspective.
Finally, this agreement has a message for Abu Mazen as well. The provision that allows Hamas terrorists to travel to Judea and Samaria is bound to undermine Abu Mazen's rule there, and is undoubtedly blowback for Abu Mazen's continued insistence (including Wednesday in his meeting with Secretary of State Clinton) on pushing ahead with the UN vote. Obama essentially told him that if he won't play ball, he will be replaced by Hamas. Obama also proved to Abu Mazen that he can bend Netanyahu and force him to make the concessions Abu Mazen wants him to make. Will Abu Mazen get another chance/? Maybe. Or maybe Obama has decided that he is going to try to force Israel to reach an agreement with Hamas.
It's a long time to 2016....