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Friday, January 09, 2009

Israel defiant?

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Early Friday morning Israel time, the UN Security Council voted 14-0 to call for an 'immediate and durable' 'cease fire.' The United States abstained.

The resolution itself is an oxymoron. By definition, no 'cease fire' that is 'immediate' will be durable, because the only durable cease fire in Gaza is one that includes safeguards to ensure that Hamas can no longer turn the Strip into an ammunition dump.

Israel repeated after the vote what it said before the vote: The United Nations will not dictate the end of Operation Cast Lead:
Jerusalem quickly responded to the decision by saying that no UN resolution would dictate when Israel would end its operation in Gaza. Senior officials told Israel Radio early Friday morning that only the achievement of goals defined by the Security Cabinet would establish the cessation of military activity.
The entire situation is absurd since Israel as a member state is bound to obey Security Council resolutions, while Hamas is not.

Given that we are eleven days from the end of the Bush administration, Israel can probably continue the operation until then without coming into conflict with the United States. But come January 20, life may be different. Not only will the UN be putting Hamas on the footing of a state actor, so will the incoming Obama administration (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
The incoming Obama administration is prepared to abandon George Bush's ­doctrine of isolating Hamas by establishing a channel to the Islamist organisation, sources close to the transition team say.

The move to open contacts with Hamas, which could be initiated through the US intelligence services, would represent a definitive break with the Bush ­presidency's ostracising of the group. The state department has designated Hamas a terrorist organisation, and in 2006 ­Congress passed a law banning US financial aid to the group.

The Guardian has spoken to three ­people with knowledge of the discussions in the Obama camp. There is no talk of Obama approving direct diplomatic negotiations with Hamas early on, but he is being urged by advisers to initiate low-level or clandestine approaches.... A tested course would be to start ­contacts through Hamas and the US intelligence services, similar to the secret process through which the US engaged with the PLO in the 1970s. Israel did not become aware of the contacts until much later.
I'm not sure it's correct that such contacts were initiated in the 1970's, or if they were initiated that Israel did not know about them (the source of this piece is al-Guardian, and while I have removed things that I deemed to be editorial comments in what is ostensibly a news story, I left that one in because I am not sure). The US talking with Hamas in any form is going to go over like a ton of bricks here, at least initially. Of course, since both we and the US talk to another terror organization (Fatah) as if it's a state actor, it's kind of hard to justify not talking to Hamas too. However, it is an article of faith in Israel that talking to Fatah is okay and talking to Hamas is not.

In any event, it looks likely that the US will talk to Hamas whether we want them to or not - unless Congress raises serious objections. And unfortunately, for the first two years, Obama is likely to get a free pass from Congress.
[T]here is ­growing agreement, among Republicans as well as Democrats, on the need to engage Hamas to achieve a sustainable peace in the Middle East – even among Obama's close advisers. In an article published on Wednesday on the website Foreign Affairs, but apparently written before the fighting in Gaza, Haass, who is president of the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote: "If the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas continues to hold and a Hamas-PA reconciliation emerges, the Obama administration should deal with the joint Palestinian leadership and authorise low-level contact between US officials and Hamas in Gaza." The article was written with Martin Indyk, a former US ambassador to Israel and an adviser to Hillary Clinton.

Obama has said repeatedly that ­restoring America's image in the world would rank among the top priorities of his administration, and there has been widespread praise for his choice of Clinton as secretary of state and Jim Jones, the former Marine Corps commandant, as his national security adviser.

He is expected to demonstrate that commitment to charting a new foreign policy within days when he is expected to name a roster of envoys to take charge of key foreign policy areas: Iran, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, India-Pakistan, and North Korea.
Just to give you an idea of how misguided the policy of talking to Hamas is, consider this from the al-Guardian piece:
Bruce Hoffman, a ­counterterrorism expert at George­town University's school of foreign ­service, said it was unlikely that Obama would move to initiate contacts with Hamas unless the radical faction in Damascus was crippled by the conflict in Gaza. "This would really be dependent on Hamas's military wing having suffered a real, almost decisive, drubbing."
That's how the US started talking to Fatah too. Fatah suffered a 'real drubbing' from Israel on the streets of Beirut in 1982 - so much so that the 'international community' had to come evacuate its leaders to Tunis. But a few years later, liberal Jews and Peres' poodles conspired to rescue Fatah from oblivion by convincing the Reagan administration to open contacts with the PLO. And when that wasn't enough, Peres' poodles secretly negotiated the 'Oslo accords' behind Israel's back. All that has brought us is another fifteen years of 'Palestinian' terrorism - and counting.

Despite the next couple of weeks looking okay, things don't look good for the long term. And that's without even considering the possibility of a Livni-Barak government emerging from next month's Israeli elections.


At 9:17 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

There are no good options for Israel - there never have been. All Israel can do is manage its conflicts since it is never allowed to win. The game has always been rigged against Jews. Thus, Israel's current goals are to obtain as much possible before Jan. 20th and either impose a decision by arms or through a political accord. It will not end the fight with Hamas. But it will buy Israel time til the next round... and it is taken for granted there will be a next round. What the UN decided last night does not change this reality.

At 10:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"real almost decisive drubbing"

Yeah, like when Arafat y"sh was nearly destroyed, and they brought him back, armed his thugs, trained them, and turned them loose on the Paleostinian Arabs. And, since that worked sooooo well, that's a great reason to use the same model here, right?


At 10:17 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 10:20 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Ytba, they sold it by saying the terrorists would police terrorists better than the IDF could. The theory ended up backfiring on Israel when the terrorist refused to play along.

Its so meshuggeneh a notion that only Jews could have thought it up!

At 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe the US abstained. We couldn't even take a stand one way or the other? Where's my shoe?


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