Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gaza truce - what could be worse?

By Ami Isseroff

By every indication, Israel will assent to an Egyptian arranged truce with the Palestinians in Gaza shortly. This truce is very likely to be a disaster for Israel. It will allow the Hamas to rule Gaza in peace and harmony, enjoying the benefits of absolute dictatorship. It will probably allow them to import more or less unlimited quantities of arms and money from Iran, while sending their "personnel" for courses in basic terrorism 101 and advanced Jihadism 303, given free of charge by the Iranian Republican Guard Corps. Egyptian control over arms smuggling is still apparently a tiny "detail" that needs to be worked out before the truce goes ahead. In reality, it is not a detail, it is the whole point of the truce, and the fact that it is pushed out to the last moment shows that the negotiators are not responsible.

It is unlikely that this truce will bring about a real end to the rain of rockets and mortar fire from Gaza, though it might reduce it to a dull roar for a while. Hamas truces don't last always, 'cause Palestinians invent new groups every three days. The "new" groups announce that they don't respect the truce, and the terrorists have deniability.

Perhaps Israeli captured soldier Gilad Shalit will be exchanged now or at a later date for an absurd number of Palestinian war criminals and minor offenders. No matter to Hamas, they can always kidnap another soldier, right?

Since it would announce to the world that Israel is, in effect, dealing with Hamas, it would land Israel pretty near the square of "Legitimizing Hamas Rule" in the game of Gaza Monopoly.

So why would Israel agree to this "lull?"

There are, in fact many reasons to agree to the "lull." One possible reason is to demonstrate to the world, to the Egyptian government and to skeptics in the Israeli public, that the lull won't work, allowing Israel to carry out a military operation. In the real world, this is not a very good reason, since "the world" will in large part forget that Israel agreed to a truce or will blame Israel for violating it. On the other hand, it would probably make the United States State Department happy. They don't live in the real world, but they still call the shots.

A much better reason to agree to the lull is that it was decided that the alternative is much worse. The only thing worse than legitimizing Hamas government in Gaza, is legitimizing Hamas government in Gaza and the West Bank. The real alternative to the truce or lull is a Palestinian unity government. That alternative came closer to reality in the past few weeks as Fatah and Hamas leaders met and talked of "reconciliation." The inevitable result of such a government would be to legitimize Hamas control of Palestinian society and of the peace negotiations, which was essentially the case before the Gaza coup of June 2007. Isolation of Gaza would crumble. Mr. Haniyeh in Gaza, and Mr. Meshal in Damascus, and through them Mr. Ahmedinejad in Tehran and Mr. Assad in Damascus, would control the Palestinian Authority. The world would applaud this shameful bargain in the same way as it applauded the Doha "compromise" that put Hezbollah in charge of Lebanon. Donor aid would flow even more freely than it does now to pay the salaries of the Hamas terrorists and the Executive Force. A euphoric US government would cajole Israel to conclude a "peace" agreement with the Hamas ruled Palestinian entity, leading to a Hamas ruled Palestinian state.

This same scenario could very well devolve from a failed military operation in Gaza, or one in which Israel failed to show due concern for civilian casualties. The world has unfortunately "bought" the fictional tale of the Gaza Siege. US elections are drawing near as well. It is unlikely that the United States or the EU will acquiesce indefinitely in the closure of Gaza.

The enemy of the bad is the much worse. However, we would do well to ask if we could not and should not have done things differently, so that we would not have to chose between bad alternatives. There is something more urgent than Monday morning quarterbacking. Opponents of a military strike on Gaza point out that it requires preparation of an exit strategy in advance - for the day after. The truce will have a "day after" too. Hamas rule is already insufferable for Palestinians, but human rights groups aren't really concerned with helping Palestinians, and Israel can't do much about random beatings and murders of Christians and free spirits in Gaza. Sooner or later, however, Hamas is bound to make its rule insufferable for Israel. We hope that those who are engineering the truce policy understand that there must be an "exit strategy" for the truce as well.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2008.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am so tired of American and Israeli liberals wanting an "exit strategy" when the use of arms must be used. There should be only one "exit strategy" in an armed conflict - Victory

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