Gaza ceasefire is too little, too late

ANALYSIS: Operation Protective Edge has left behind several poisoned chalices: Israelis have discovered they have no leadership, no political trust, a tenuous grip on coexistence and democracy, and a downturn in relations with the US.

By Nahum Barnea, YNET NEWS

IDF vehicles on the Gaza border (Photo: Ido Erez)IDF vehicles on the Gaza border (Photo: Ido Erez)

It isn’t always the case that all’s well that ends well. The fear is that instead of paving the way for removing the threat from Gaza, we are rather paving the way for the next round, either in Lebanon or in Gaza. But this is what our government has bestowed upon us, and we will have to live with it.

The final misstep was the failure to bring about a Security Council resolution before the ceasefire agreement. The draft resolution formulated in conjunction with the Americans focused on the reality in Gaza on the day after. It included a call for the demilitarization of Gaza and would have improved Israel’s political situation, making it difficult for Turkey and Qatar to continue their support for Hamas.

But Netanyahu balked at the political price, and by the time he was persuaded to go with, it was too late. If there is a Security Council resolution now, it will be less comfortable for Israel, and more suited to the fit of Mahmoud Abbas.

Abbas is the real winner of this war. Hamas given may have been given glory on the Palestinian street, but he and his Palestinian Authority have been given control over the process of rebuilding Gaza, a process that will involve channeling billions, as well as not inconsiderable corruption. Abbas has today won the status of positive leader and legitimate partner not only in the eyes of the Arab world and the international community, but also in the eyes of the Israeli public opinion. Perhaps Operation Protective Edge is the silver salver on which the State of Palestine is established.

Previous clashes with terrorist organizations ended with public international support for Israel. This was the case at the end of the Second Lebanon War, with Security Council resolution 1701, and at the end of Operation Cast Lead, with demonstrative visits to Israel by European foreign ministers.

 

Both of these events occurred during Ehud Olmert’s tenure as prime minister. This time, the Israeli government has not initiated any steps: Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is focused on other issues, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not presented any initiative of his own.

 

What was achieved in Cairo is Pillar of Defense 2. It could have been considered as an achievement had it happened two weeks after the operation, when the price we paid was not so high. It could have been tolerated after a month, but after 50 days you can only feel regret for what has happened, and hope for better in the future.

Hamas political leader Khaled Mashal was reluctant to agree to the Cairo arrangement, and the assumption in Israel is that Hamas leaders in Gaza forced him to accept, due to the cumulative stress and the pressure from the Gazan population.

Israelis have discovered some uncomfortable truths during this period. First, despite the absolute operational freedom of the IDF in the air and at sea, despite the tremendous firepower on the ground, despite the almost hermetic protection from rocket fire, Israel still cannot defeat a terrorist organization that is relatively small in size and isolated in the Arab world.

 

Hamas 'victory' rally (Photo: AP)
Hamas ‘victory’ rally (Photo: AP)

 

 

Secondly, wars, even limited ones, demand a price that the Israeli public had not expected to pay and were not willing to pay. The price this time was paid primarily in the blood of Israeli warriors; the blood of civilians in the south, civilians abandoned by the government throughout the operation; disruptions to life in the center of the country and the loss of tens of billions to the economy; defense costs; physical damage; and a downturn in economic activity.

 

 

Ashkelon home hit by Gaza rocket (Photo: AFP)
Ashkelon home hit by Gaza rocket (Photo: AFP)

 

 

Thirdly, Israel discovered that they have no government. On the eve of the operation, the political echelon realized that if the stranglehold on Gaza continued, Hamas would start firing. If it had acted, the military conflict might have been avoided. In practice, it was the military that conducted this campaign.

 

The IDF top brass did not ask for the job itself. Quite the reverse, in fact, and entered into the conflict with a lack of enthusiasm for the vacuum created above it, at the political level.

 

For Netanyahu it was the first real military conflict of all his periods of tenure as prime minister. To a great extent, this was his big test. Israelis expected a leader, a statesman who knew what he wanted to achieve, a decision-maker who would hold a sincere dialogue with the public. What they got was a slick spokesman, and very little more. Looking back over the 50 days of the operation, one can see numerous wordy discussions, but will find it hard to spot significant decision by Netanyahu, or a single move for which he can be credited.

 

He couldn’t muster the courage to tell the Israeli public: “My fellow citizens, I am sorry. For decades I have preached to you that there is only one way to handle a terrorist organization – and that is to eliminate it. We must not negotiate, we must not compromise. I was wrong. And therefore I am now, under fire, holding close talks with Hamas and striving to reach an agreement. I have no other suggestions.” Such a speech would, of course, never happen.

 

 

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh at Gaza 'victory' rally (Photo: AFP)
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh at Gaza ‘victory’ rally (Photo: AFP)

 

 

Not only was there no Israeli leadership – there was no transparency or honesty either. There were only fiery speeches about the animals in human form in Gaza, even as he negotiated with those same beasts. At his side was Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, tight-lipped and mute. In a few years, one of the questions for trivia quizzes will be, “Who was defense minister during Operation Protective Edge?” And no one will be able to guess correctly, not for even for a million shekels.

 

And it is not only Israel’s citizens who have discovered that they have no leadership, the Cabinet ministers have too. There has been friction in the upper echelons during every military confrontation, but the worst thing that stood out this time was that the rules of the game were broken. Cabinet ministers lost the last remnants of their faith in the prime minister, and the prime minister lost the last of his willingness to share details of what was happening. Ministers were informed of Israel’s agreement to the ceasefire by telephone – a humiliating end to a shameful process.

 

The fourth uncomfortable truth that Israelis discovered during the operation was that it is more and more difficult for Jews and Arabs to enjoy a shared existence. The Jews became radicalized and the Arabs became radicalized. Racist expressions became legitimate. Threats on the lives of artists and journalists became routine. This perilous reality, which endangers the democratic discourse and endangers domestic coexistence, is one of the poisoned chalices that the Gaza conflict leaves behind.

 

And it leaves in its wake another trail: the bitter aftertaste it has created in Israel’s relationship with the United States. Israel paid for the bombing of Gaza with stormy protests in Europe and a worrying expansion in the international boycott. This was expected, more or less. And while an investigation by the UN’s anti-Israel Human Rights Council was inevitable, the row with the US government was utterly unnecessary.

 

IAF strike on Gaza (Photo: Reuters)
IAF strike on Gaza (Photo: Reuters)

 

 

Under the terms of the ceasefire agreement, Israel and the Palestinians are supposed to return to the negotiating table within one month. This was one of the perks received by Khaled Mashal, in exchange for his agreement to abandon his demand for a limited month-long ceasefire. The discussions on the reconstruction of Gaza will be held on the eve of the Jewish high holidays.

 

For the Israelis, this is extremely inconvenient timing. Let’s see Israelis make plans for the holiday, with Hamas threatening to renew its fire.

August 28, 2014 | 9 Comments »

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9 Comments / 9 Comments

  1. yamit82 Said:

    Obama may have been the best thing to happen since the invention of sliced bread.

    Or canned beer !!!!!!!!! ” G-d works in mysterious way his wonders to preform”. Enjoyed you assessment of recent events.


  2. Liberman pans ceasefire with ‘contemptible murderers’

    Foreign minister challenges Netanyahu, says Israel should have liberated Palestinians in Gaza and the entire region from Hamas

    “So long as Hamas controls Gaza, we cannot guarantee safety for the citizens of Israel and we cannot reach a political arrangement,” he said.

    What did he say here??? Hmmmmmm 🙁


  3. Netanyahu, Abbas met secretly in Jordan — report

    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met secretly in Amman several days ago, Jordanian newspaper Al Ghad reports.

    The unsourced report says the meeting, likely sponsored by Jordan’s king, took place several days before Israel and Hamas agreed on a ceasefire on Tuesday.

    It offers no further details.

    There is no confirmation of the report from either the Palestinian or Israeli sides.

    The two leaders have not met face to face since September 2010.

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/if-hamas-attacks-israel-will-hit-back-sevenfold-netanyahu-warns/#ixzz3BgPF7Var

  4. Let’s look at the bright side: A Massive Hamas Mega-Attack Planned for Jewish New Year Through Gaza Terror Tunnels – See more at: http://pamelageller.com/2014/07/massive-hamas-mega-attack-planned-jewish-new-year-gaza-terror-tunnles.html/#sthash.1B1dJCKs.dpuf

    If Hamas had not kidnapped and murdered three youths which set the Israeli reaction in motion Hamas would never have so responded at this stage.

    It was the destruction of the Hamas leadership structure by the IDF and Shabak that disrupted the Hamas plans for a forced takeover of the PA. The rocket attacks by Hamas from Gaza was initiated prematurely by Israeli actions against Hamas in Y&S.

    If Hamas had accepted and abided by the first call for cease fire the Tunnels would have remained undetected and their mega attack against our civilians along our 68 KM border with Gaza would have been horrendous.

    Even after the discovery and destruction of the tunnels by Israel Hamas could have stopped the fighting and the further destruction of their Hamanistan Gaza civilian and military infrastructure but miraculously they refused and continued allowing Israel to inflict ever more destruction to their capabilities. Even if the IAF had not destroyed what we claim was destroyed, their inventory has been severely depleted especially their longer range rockets. They may find ways to replace their losses over time but it should seen in light of Egypt’s position, be more difficult and take much longer to accomplish.

    I don’t see Abbas running to Gaza to assert his authority there. America,the EU and UN have had almost no influence or apparent influence on the events of the past 50 days but not for lack of trying.

    This is the first time in my memory where Israel did not rely on or conform to outside influences to dictate and control events and ending to our numerous conflicts with the Arabs. While some and even BB maybe upset and unbalanced by the course of events where we are being left to a large degree to our own devices I see it as potentially the major Israeli benefit at least so far.

    We have kept the security council out of this, the Obama Admin, and especially the EU.

    Iran’s influence has been met and tested, Qatar and Turkey excluded and pushed to the sidelines and their proxy has been pummeled and largely defanged.

    In the end it was Hamas who begged and received from Israel a cease fire with no additional concessions from Israel it seems than was offered at the beginning of this 50 day conflict.- Israel still controls most of the goods entering and exiting Gaza. Egypt has reduced it seems most of the tunnels from it’s side of the border with Gaza and we still control the sea.

    The Billions Hamas is expected to receive from donors will be processes and distributed by Abbas and the PA and we control the goods.

    I don’t see Hamas, Iran, Qatar and Turkey sitting idly by without some effort to restore their positions. I don’t see Egypt as long as they are backed by the Saudis of changing their positions in the near future.

    America, EU and UN have been relegated to bit players and so far ineffective ones at that. Soon the Anti-Israel protests and movements will find other things to do and we will slowly return to a more comfortable regional norm at least with regards to Gaza.

    Israeli business with thrive by supplying much of the goods and materials to be allowed into Gaza which will help compensate for losses to our economy-of the past 2 months.

    If in the coming year or so Israel attacks Iran or ISIS in the north the impact from Hamas and Gaza will be minimal or less effective and destructive athat Iran had planned for.

    Y&S has for the time being been removed from the diplomatic fallout the left and Obama and the EU had been hoping for.

    This war was costly for Israel but looking at the bigger picture we got lucky and the chain of events can be viewed by those who are believers to have been providential.

    Just as G-d hardened the heart of Pharaoh so too was the heart or minds set of Hamas and 50 days allowed the IDF to do to them what may be a fatal blow. Hamas without active military resistance is no longer Hamas. There is no one in the Arab world supporting Hamas except for Qatar and the Saudis have read them the riot act.

    We may be at the threshold of a real new ME, not the Shimon Peres ME, not some utopian fantasy but one based almost 100% on national interests of each of the parties.

    Obama may have been the best thing to happen since the invention of sliced bread.

    Israel Nears Gas Sales to Egypt

    Egypt and Israel are negotiating deals that may mean the sale of $60 billion in Israeli natural gas to liquefaction plants in Egypt. “From these LNG plants in Egypt, Israeli gas can reach European and Asian markets,” said David Shrem, a Tel Aviv-based portfolio manager at Sphera Funds Management Ltd. The deals “are the first significant ones for regional exports.” Noble, based in Houston, and the Delek units Delek Drilling-LP and Avner Oil Exploration LP (AVNRL), expect to send gas through pipelines under the Mediterranean Sea. They signed a non-binding agreement in June to deliver the fuel to BG Group Plc (BG/)’s LNG plant in Idku, and reached a similar deal in May to sell gas to Spain-based Union Fenosa Gas SA’s Damietta plant.

    Delek’s units expect those deals to be finalized by year-end, as per company filings, according to an e-mailed statement Aug. 17. That echoes comments made by Noble’s president and chief operating officer David Stover in July. Tamar started production last year and Leviathan is scheduled to begin output in 2018. The two accords provide for sales of as much as 6.25 trillion cubic feet of gas over 15 years, Noble and its Israeli partners said. That would be worth more than $60 billion at current prices in the U.K.

    “Recent developments concerning Russia and Ukraine have made energy security a top priority for Europe and the EU is scrutinizing all potential sources,” said Leigh, a former director general in the European Commission. “Greater attention will probably be focused on the Eastern Mediterranean and Israeli gas as a result.”

    Fourth major Kurdish oil cargo delivered

    An Iraqi Kurdish crude oil tanker has reappeared off the coast of Israel having offloaded its cargo, ship tracking data on Reuters showed, in the latest sign the autonomous region is finding buyers for its oil in defiance of Baghdad.

  5. @ Topaz:
    For years we have identified the internal failure modes embedded in the Israeli systems since Oslo.
    Netanyahu was, is and will be disastrous and must be ordered out of office.
    Our collective lives depend on that.

  6. Snatching defeat. Craziness. In one month, Hamas will have replenished its rockets with highly advanced systems from Iran, that can bypass Iron Dome; and opening of tunnels left; and the knowledge that Israel will beg. Gaza will have renewed leverage and support from the US etc.

    Allowing the upcoming talks to take place on the eve of the High Holidays is SHAMEFUL.

    The talks will centre upon the horrific demands of Hamas including more mass murderers released, a seaport, an airfield, etc. etc. etc. ALL Israel will get is a promise of talks toward demilitarization of Gaza someday.

    The people of Israel and its military must stop this nonsense of there is nothing we can do, we are a democracy. Suspend the government, let a strong military take over, redesign the structure of the government so people directly elect their leaders and limit the number of political parties. AND STOP FOREVER THIS NONSENSE OF BEING THE MOST MORAL ARMY IN THE WORLD. “Know what happens to martyrs, They get eaten.” If not, then attacks from the air and from tunnels will hit Israel on ALL fronts. This is madness.

    How is it that Jews can be so smart for other people’s causes, so firm in their stances; EXCEPT when it comes to their own. The conduct before, during, and premature ending of this war is beyond any logic. The vision being given to the world is of a timid people – too eager for being left alone; that the old ghetto Jew lives in Israel.

  7. Whatever. We are focusing on preparing for a new government system and a leadership that understand that they must respond to the people called interests, not to foreign controllers. There is nothing to seek from the wasteland passing as government.
    There must be no more spinning, “interpretations”, contorting, or histrionics. Precisely what the people demands is what the leadership MUST deliver. And if they cannot do that, they must resign or be removed from office.
    To receive contact information respond please to this comment. There is a Platform and a 8 point plan to perform the re construction required.