Cut a deal with the US before invading Gaza

By Giora Eiland, YNET (a retired IDF major-general and former head of the National Security Council)

Prior to any important discussion regarding our handling of the Qassam rocket fire from Gaza, three key assumptions should be made.

    Firstly, the Qassam rocket fire cannot be halted by means of an aerial operation only.

    Secondly, without changing the situation along the Philadelphi Route Hamas will continue to boost its military force.

    Thirdly, the reality in Sderot is unbearable. This assumption is not as obvious as it may sound. Until recently the Israeli government regarded the continuation of the current situation there as the better option. Apparently, this attitude has changed. If the rocket fire cannot be stopped remotely or from the air, how can it be stopped?

There are two ways of achieving this and both options have a common thread: Exercising a political option prior to a military operation and reaching an understanding with the US regarding the question of the “day after,” or “how pressure will be lifted after a military operation and in exchange for what .” Such pressure would not only be painful for the Palestinians.

Option A: Capturing areas in the Gaza Strip, particularly the Philadelphi Route – while not sufficing with capturing the Route, which is too narrow to protect, and widening it. The implication of this would be the destruction of hundreds of homes in Rafah and thousands of homeless people. This will create an international outcry and spark the ire of the Egyptians – which is a good thing! Israel would insist that it would withdraw its troops only if and when a satisfactory security arrangement is hammered out. Such a settlement is possible and Israel should reach an agreement on it with the US prior to an operation.

Similarly, action should be taken in several other areas as well.

Option B: Israel announces that as far as it is concerned Gaza is a political entity (separate from the West Bank,) which is ruled pragmatically and formally by Hamas. As this entity is in a state of war with Israel, Israel would have to take three measures:

    * Immediately close off border crossings between Israel and Gaza (as Gaza is open to Egypt, supplies to and from Gaza could be transferred through there.)
    * Announce that in several months Israel would cease to supply water, electricity and fuel.
    * Since Gaza is an enemy state in a state of war with Israel, every governing institution in Gaza and the infrastructure serving the belligerent effort against us, including roads and bridges, should be targeted

Such Israeli activity would threaten the future of the Palestinian state – and this is positive. The international arena will undoubtedly protest even more strongly and will want to reinstate the old status quo. Israel would agree only if conditions are right, conditions that must be hammered out with the US first.

The continuation of tactical assaults on Hamas rocket launchers is not the solution as it allows Hamas to exploit its relative advantage. This doesn’t mean that that the entire Gaza Strip must be taken. One of the drastic measures, as outlined here, can be adopted. And yes, there is no choice but to take a political risk, to anger several players and to force them to take action as well.

The world isn’t perturbed by what’s going on in Sderot and as long as this situation persists, we shall be called upon to “exercise restraint,” and the problems will remain ours alone.

May 24, 2007 | 6 Comments »

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6 Comments / 6 Comments

  1. I am with Little Goy Blue here. That is exactly what neds to be done but it must be placed in the context of an overall strategy to create an Israel which has defensible borders. One of these borders must be the Med on which Gaza sits.

    The issue of NATO betrays those who mention it. The experience of Yugoslavia is still alive and the role of all those Jewish leaders who supported the destruction of Yugoslavia and the hounding of the brave, honourable Serbs is also still active.

    We need an overall strategy. Then we can discuss possible tacts which are pliable, but not the strategy.

    People like Sharon, Olmert, Livni, Peretz and this guy Lieberman have no strategy, or rather their strategy changes on the merest whim.

    After Lieberman gives up Gaza, then it will be the Golan, then part of Judea etc etc.

    The Fascists find all that very fruitful.

  2. Inform the Americans? fine. Seek American approval to protect itself against active attack? Well this is the insanity that has brought Israel to this point.

    Tell the Palestinians that power and water will be cut off TOMORROW unless and until the rockets stop. Period. Then tell them Israel wants all their rocket launchers before turning it back on. Period. Israel can do it with less PR flack TODAY because Lebanon is doing it to the Palestinian camps TODAY (for those who think PR is such an important thing). Israel better start worrying less about trying to make their supposed friends like them, and begin making absolutely sure their enemies respect them.

  3. While it is true America has struck deals or reached understandings with Israel in past, it was never without strings attached.

    Those strings, express or implied reined in, limited or softened an Israeli military response to being attacked, be it from Palestinians or from Hezbollah.

    In the case of earlier Israeli military responses to Palestinian suicide bombing attacks, Israel was given to destroying the house(s) of the family of the suicide bomber. That soon erupted into controversy as Israel was subjected to accusations of imposing collective punishment first by the Muslim Middle East and then by the West.

    Later targeted assasinations of Palestinian terrorist leaders to avoid at best and limit at worst collateral human damage, boiled into controversy with Israel being angrily accused by first the Muslim Middle East and then the West of engaging in illegal extra-judicial murders.

    In each of these cases, America responded by joining the chorus of Muslim nations screaming their accusations.

    America is, to say the least very sensitive to the mood of the Muslim Middle East. The U.S. therefore do as much as she can to avoid angering the Muslim Middle East more than it may have by any support given Israel. Alternatively, the U.S. will continue to seek to restrain Israel in some way, in anticipation of an angry reaction that will spill over on America which would create even greater obstacles to America’s efforts to maintain their influence in the Muslim Middle East and to advance their interests accordingly.

    Israel over the years has become itself very sensitive as to how America will react to measures Israel takes. Because of that Israel likely does not in many instances even confer with America to get America’s blessing. Rather, Israel tailors her decisions as to what if any response to make to an attack by Palestinians by anticipating whether America would or would not go along with a counter-attack or counter-measure.

    I expect that virtually in every instance when a Palestinian terrorist attack is particularly egregious or the number of unresponded to attacks have become too significant that Israel feels it has no choice but to mount a counter-offensive or take counter-measures that will impact on many Palestinians or as in the case of the Hezbollah attack, impact on the Lebaneses, Israel does consult with America to gain their concurrence as to just how far Israel can go in defending against the exigent threat.

    As for Lebanon II, there can be little doubt that Israel ran its plan by America to launch a major offensive against Hezbollah. There also is no doubt that America in giving Israel the green light was encouraged to do so by having already received feedback from the Saudis, Egyptians and Jordanians that they were very angry with Hezbollah. America probably also got those nations to publically condemn Hezbollah.

    As for an agreement between Israel and the U.S. for the U.S. to support Israel’s counter-offensive, it was almost certainly an express term of Israel’s agreement with the U.S. or one of the implied major articulate premises that Israel’s military response would not be disproportionate.

    Apart from Israel’s numerous mistakes in its war effort, it is likely that both Israel and America underestimated the difficulties Israel would encounter in rooting out and killing Hezbollah that disguised themselves as civilians as they used other non-combatant Lebanese as human shields and the time it would take to accomplish that objective.

    As the war ground on, by week two or three, the mood of the Muslim Middle East began to change to calling for a ceasefire and then to hero worship of Nasrallah and Hezbollah along with commensurate and the usual anger with Israel. America was not prepared to allow that anger to continue and worsen more then it had because America would also suffer a further loss of prestige and respect in the eyes of the Muslim Middle East if they could not restrain Israel and force her into an agreement to bring hostilities to a close.

    As it turned out America then saw itself under the gun to bring about an end of hostilities agreement and found itself trying to hammer out a deal that would sell to the EU with France, America’s greatest detractor in the EU and one hungry to show up America. As it turned out America and France did hammer out a deal that was most disadvantageous to Israel which they then hammered Israel to submit and agree to.

    Historically, America’s support for Israel, while steadfast, has teetered and all often teetered against Israel as America’s overall Middle East policy has been to try to achieve some modicum of balance between Israel and all the Muslim nations of the Middle East. It is by that uneasy balance that America seeks to advance her overall interests in the Muslim Middle East.

    Any agreements and understandings therefore that Israel has in past entered into with America have been shaped to fit into America’s grand scheme to advance her interests in the Middle East.

    While Giora Eiland’s Option A, which I submit leads to nowhere different then where Israel has been trying unsuccessfully to get to thus far, allows for an agreement or understanding between Israel and America, Option B certainly does not.

  4. I am not as quick as Bill to discount agreement with the US. The US has always cut deals with Israel when it is in their interest to do so. e.g. it supported Israel’s strong actions in the Second Lebanese War. Both Israel and the US want to see the end of Hamas. They just have to work out the details.

  5. Even though Eiland is a retired IDF major-general and former head of the National Security Council and obviously head and shoulders, if not mountain high above me in knowledge and experience, I still find much fault with his thinking.

    There is in my view far more dream then reality in Giora Eiland’s thinking that America will make deals with Israel to allow Israel to execute on Eiland’s proposed Options A and B.

    Further, I am not even close to being convinced that Giora Eiland is onto something new and valuable in his option A proposal and his option B proposal is not at all well thought out, at least not by what he has thus far said to explain his thinking.

    First, Eiland’s option A just puts a different slant on resolving the current situation within the context of what Israel has been trying to do, which is to find a peaceful solution with the Palestinians that ensures Israel’s security. I expect over the last many years, Eiland’s option A has already been canvassed with America either specifically or variations of same.

    We can all see just how successful or more to the point, unsuccessful Israel has been in reaching an agreement with America that will lead to Israel reaching an agreement with Palestinians that will assure Israel’s security.

    As for Eiland’s option B, while it is is in my view preferable, it suffers from being only half a plan and therefore not acceptable or practical as it stands.

    Eiland’s option B assumes Palestinians will sink or swim in Gaza depending on whether Egypt comes to the fore to supply Gazan Palestinians with essential services Israel now supplies, such as water, electricity and fuel and aids the Palestinians in rebuilding the Palestinian infrastructure that Plan B requires be targetted and destroyed.

    Will Egypt step up to the plate to aid the Palestinians to keep them from dying and drying up en masse? Will other Arab nations take in the Palestinians, provide them with citizenship and an opportunity for a normal life? Will the world allow the Palestinians to die from thirst and starvation and then let nature take its course as the bodies of the million or so Gazan Palestinians are returned to dust?

    The answer to all of these questions is an emphatic no!

    It is almost certain, given past history that if Israel were to execute Plan B, Egypt and other Arab nations would prefer to follow the game plan of the last 40 years.

    The Arabs have deliberately allowed the Palestinians to suffer in abject poverty, misery and hopelessness not only in Gaza and the West Bank but within refugee camps they set up in their own nations to warehouse Palestinians who fled the area in 1948 and their children and grandchildren. Rather then take these Palestinians in as citizens and allow them the opportunity to lead normal lives or otherwise help these Palestinians, the Arabs have fueled the Palestinian hatred of Israel and Jews in order to distract the Palestinians from the fact that instead of being their brethren and helping them as they were more than able to do, the Arab nations have been using the Palestinians and have kept them in abject poverty and misery for their own purposes which is to ultimately bring about Israel’s end.

    The Arab nations will almost certainly not lift a finger to help the Palestinians if Israel were to execute a Plan B, other then to prevail upon the Western oil dependent nations to not only keep up their financial aid to the Palestinians, but increase it and of course lay all the blame only on Israel.

    The Middle Eastern Muslim world has every reason to expect that the West will come to the aid of the Palestinians as regards Israel executing option B. In fact, it is dreaming to think that America would approve of Plan B.

    That leaves it to Israel to decide that if it chooses to go with Plan B, it will have to go it alone. To do so, Israel knows full well that she risks uniting the Muslim Middle East to attack Israel in a full scale genocidal war and that Israel would have to be prepared to fight to the end and to the death. Israel would have to have a military strategy that guaranteed winning quickly so that the West would have little or no time to intervene to keep Israel from winning.

    In such case the war between Israel and the Muslim world would be for the ultimate prize as regards Israel, Gaza, Judea and Samaria which prize is a total victory where the winner takes it all.

    There is however a Plan C that I have spoken of before that would change the Muslim Middle East landscape and give israel more breathing room, if not much greater opportunities to find real peace with the Palestinians or to write the Palestinians out of the equation and achieve a real and lasting peace with her neighbors.

    My plan C would be for a co-ordinated attack by America on Iran and Israel on Syria that would reduce both nations to rubble and force them to concentrate only on rebuilding their nations. Hezbollah would die withoug the life sustaining support of Iran and Syria and Hamas would at least be crippled without ongoing support from Iran. America would find its show of power would earn it equal measures of newfound respect and fear from the Middle Eastern Muslim world and America would be that much better able to advance her own interests while Israel in such a changed political landscape would also likely be far better able to advance her own interests.

  6. One can understand the value of making a deal with the US before invading. Its called covering your ass. It removes some of the uncertainty. But its not a pre-condition to doing what has to be done. You can always make a deal afterwards.

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