The cease-fire agreement that Israel accepted Wednesday night to end the current round of Palestinian rocket and missile attacks is not a good deal for Israel by any stretch of the imagination.
At best, Israel and Hamas are placed on the same moral plane. The cease-fire erases the distinction between Israel, a peace-seeking liberal democracy that wants simply to defend its citizens, and Hamas, a genocidal jihadist terrorist outfit that seeks the eradication of the Jewish people and the destruction of Israel.
Under international law, Israel is not just within its rights to defend itself from Hamas. It is required to. International law requires all states to treat Hamas terrorists as criminals and deny them safe haven and financing. But the cease-fire agreement requires both the Israeli policeman and the Hamas criminal to hold their fire.
At worst, the cease-fire places Israel beneath Hamas. The first two clauses require both sides to end hostilities. The third suggests Israel is expected to make further concessions to Hamas after the firing stops.
Then there is the cease-fire’s elevation of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government to the role of responsible adult. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian President Muhamad Morsi openly supports Hamas. Morsi sent his Prime Minister Hesham Kandil to Gaza to personally express the Egyptian government’s support for Hamas’s criminal assault against Israeli civilians.
Over the weekend, Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood held what the media claimed was a stormy meeting. Its members were split over what to do about Israel. Half wanted to go to war with Israel immediately. The other half called for waiting until the Egyptian military is prepared for war. In the end, the voices calling for patient preparation for war won the day.
And for their patience, the Muslim Brothers received the plaudits of the US government. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her boss President Barack Obama were effusive in their praise of the Egyptian government, and joined Egypt in placing Israel on the same moral plane as a terrorist group.
Moreover, Obama and Clinton compelled Israel to accept wording in the cease-fire that arguably makes Egypt the arbiter of Israeli and Palestinian compliance with the agreement.
Aside from the administration’s de facto support for the Hamas regime in Gaza, it is hard to think of a greater humiliation than Israel being forced to submit complaints to its sworn enemy about the actions of the sworn enemy’s terrorist client.
And yet, for all of that, it isn’t clear that Israel had a better option than to sign on the dotted line. Israel might have gotten better results if Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak had ordered the ground forces poised at the border to take out a few Hamas ground installations. It certainly would make sense for Israel to end Gaza’s electricity supply.
But as it stands today, a full-blown ground invasion in the mold of the 2002 Defensive Shield Operation, where Israel seized control of Judea and Samaria from Palestinian terror groups and reasserted its security control over the Palestinian areas, so ending the Palestinian terror onslaught against Jerusalem and central Israel, was not in the cards.
Israel is in a strategic trap. And it is one of its own making. Starting with the Rabin-Peres government’s decision to embrace the PLO terrorist organization as a peace partner in 1993, Israel has been in strategic retreat. Each incremental retreat by Israel has empowered its worst enemies both militarily and diplomatically and weakened the Jewish state militarily and diplomatically.
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