Saturday, January 17, 2009

Israel To Declare Unilateral Ceasefire

Good, and about time, though I don't know how long it will hold up. The "unilateral" part, paired with Israel saying it will still respond to rocket fire, seems to be a recipe for disaster. But progress is progress. The reason, I gather, Hamas is not joining the cease-fire at this time is contained in this statement:
Hamas has said a cease-fire alone is not enough.

"We are working in every direction so we can achieve our objectives in stopping the aggression, lifting the blockade, opening the crossings, and the compensation of our people and the rebuilding of the Gaza strip," said Hamas delegation spokesman Salah Bardwill.

I thought the whole point of people calling for a ceasefire was to put an immediate end to the devastation being wrought by the Gaza campaign, rather than tying it to other (legitimate, to be sure) political goals. If Israel had refused a ceasefire until it got a commitment from Hamas to recognize it as a state and cease all terrorist attacks, the war would have never ended.

Meanwhile, Israel has it's own set of delusions it's laboring under:
The senior official says he expects Olmert to announce a "cessation of military operations because we have achieved our goals both militarily on the ground and with our international partners,"

"Hamas' military machine has been substantially destroyed," the official added. "They have been given a sufficient deterrence that they will think twice before attacking again."

Are they serious? What in this operation might have possibly made Hamas even blink before attacking again? We already know they don't care for shit about Palestinian suffering (much less Israeli). The latest operation, bizarre notions to the contrary notwithstanding, isn't going to make Gazan residents love Israel more, and will undoubtedly create a host of new folks willing to attack Israel.

Maybe the capacity is reduced, but the will is as strong as ever. The military option -- whether it lasts one day, or thirty days, or three years, is inherently limited in what it can accomplish, because you can't in the modern world -- consistent with any modicum of human rights treatment -- prevent people from getting a hold of guns and launching attacks.

I'm not saying there is no role for military endeavors. But they aren't going to win the day -- at best they are dilatory. The folks who don't want Israel and Palestine to be at peace will never be rendered incapable of launching attacks, and their motivation will always be present because they know the fastest way to derail any emergent peace effort is to get the two sides fighting again and radicalizing yet another cadre of citizens on both sides.

Israel did seem to win a reasonably serious concession in a renewed effort to stop arms smuggling through tunnels on the Egyptian border. I think, though, that this victory has to be paired with a drastic increase in humanitarian aid admitted into Gaza -- indeed, a drastic increase in the humanitarian aid directed at Gaza, period. Things have to move fast: there are some things on the negotiating table that can wait awhile people bargain. Getting people food, water, jobs and electricity is not one of them. If Israel thinks Hamas has been truly incapacitated, then it must seize the moment to help get Gaza productive and on its feet, and encourage the international community to do likewise. Otherwise, we're going to be back where we started again.

1 comment:

The Intellectual Redneck said...

Israel unilaterally declared a ceasefire yesterday. Of course it quickly vanished when Hamas fired five rockets into Israel. Hamas does not want to cease fire unless it is on their therms. They are concerned about looking defeated in the eyes of the Arab world. In truth, they have been defeated from a military standpoint. The vanishing Israeli cease fire