President Obama is seeking to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into agreeing to an immediate unconditional ceasefire. In a phone call on Sunday, Obama reportedly told the Israeli prime minister that such a ceasefire was “a strategic imperative.” Obama specifically referred to the ceasefire proposed by Secretary of State John Kerry, which Israel’s security cabinet rejected unanimously last Friday.
Israel has been willing to observe several humanitarian pauses, primarily on a unilateral basis. Hamas went along with one 24-hour pause during the first part of the weekend and then resumed its rocket firings. After Hamas proposed its own additional 24-hour pause on Sunday, which Israel was willing to accept, Hamas nevertheless kept firing its rockets.
Kerry’s proposal was inadequate to protect Israel’s security concerns. It would have left the remaining tunnels used by Hamas to infiltrate Israel in place, which Israel simply could not accept. According to a leaked draft document of the proposal that both Aljazeera and Haaretz were reported to have obtained, Kerry’s ceasefire proposal skirted the specific concerns raised by Israel about allowing the tunnels to remain intact and letting Hamas keep its weapons stockpiles. Instead, it focused on opening the border crossings, with no specific security monitoring plan in place to ensure that Hamas would not build up its military capabilities even further. It called for the “withdrawal of IDF from Gaza Strip” and the end to any “military or security targeting of each other.” With the IDF gone and no more “security targeting,” that means the tunnels and remaining rockets would stay put for Hamas’s later use.
Moreover, under the Kerry proposal, the parties would begin discussing, within 48 hours of cessation of fighting, much of the Hamas agenda:
“arrangements to secure the opening of border and non-border crossings, allow the entry of goods and people and ensure the social and economic livelihood of the Palestinian people living in Gaza, including fishing rights up to 12nm, transfer funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries for public employees, and address security issues.”
After Kerry continued his discussions in Paris with foreign ministers from two of the leading Hamas supporting countries, Turkey and Qatar, President Obama tried to put the squeeze on Prime Minister Netanyahu to effectively leave the Israeli people exposed to more rocket fire and Hamas infiltration into Israel from their remaining intact tunnels. Obama and Kerry are so eager to seek peace at any cost that they evidently did not include representatives from Egypt or even from the Palestinian Authority in the high level Paris discussions. As a result, even the Palestinian Authority is disgusted with the Obama administration. Walid Assad, one of the spokespersons of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, complained of Kerry’s “appeasement” of Qatar and Turkey.
The Obama administration’s deference to Qatar, home to a major U.S. air base, is no doubt motivated in part by all the money that Qatar has committed just recently to spend on purchasing Apache attack helicopters, Patriot missile defense batteries and anti-tank Javelin missiles. An $11 billion deal was announced on July 14th. Qatar provides support to Hamas and other jihadists threatening peace and security in the region. Apparently, the Obama administration is not worried or does not care that some of those missiles and helicopters could well find their way to the wrong hands.
As for Turkey, President Obama considers its Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan to be his “personal friend.” Obama’s buddy is the same guy who just a few days ago said that “You can see what Israel does to Palestine, to Gaza right now, surpasses what Hitler did to them. We do not accept this persecution, the massacre, the genocide by Israel.” Obama let this scurrilous remark pass without a word of rebuke in defense of America’s closest ally in the Middle East. And it comes from the leader of the same country that committed genocide against the Armenians and has illegally invaded and occupied northern Cyprus.
Meanwhile, the Turkish Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) is planning another effort to break Israel’s lawful sea blockade of Gaza. The last one back in 2010 led to a violent confrontation with the Israeli Defense Force. This time, according to the IHH, it will have the protection of the Turkish navy.
While Obama was on the phone Sunday pressuring Israel’s leader to cave in to the demands of Hamas’s Turkish and Qatari protectors, Hamas’s political leader Khaled Meshaal, living in luxury in Qatar, received a phone call of assurance on Sunday from Hamas’s main arms supplier, Iran. Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran’s National Security Council, is reported to have told Meshaal not to worry about depleting Hamas’s stockpile of weapons. More will be on the way.
DebkaFile has advanced a very plausible theory as to why Obama and Kerry are tilting towards the Qatar-Turkey axis, which is trying to protect Hamas’s ability to live and fight another day. At the same time, Obama and Kerry are tilting against the Israel-Egypt-Saudi Arabia triumvirate, who are united in their resolve to severely curtail the threat that Hamas poses in the region once and for all. It is all about Iran. According to DebkaFile’s analysis:
“So why is the Obama administration shoving this powerful coalition out of his way and building a rival alliance to counter it?
Its primary motive is fear that if this group is allowed to make the Israeli operation in the Gaza Strip a success, it will become the springboard for its next move, a victorious assault on Iran.
This sequence of events would totally derail current US Middle East policy, which hinges on détente with Tehran, Obama’s advisers warn him, and even jeopardize his strategy for bringing the nuclear negotiations between the six world powers and Iran to a successful conclusion.”
The Obama administration just last week agreed to a four month extension of the negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. It does not want anything to possibly get in its way of making a deal with Iran.
If Prime Minister Netanyahu does not give in to the Obama administration pressure, it is quite possible that the administration will back a UN Security Council resolution proposed by Jordan directing that there be an unconditional immediate ceasefire and that the border crossings be opened. Israel will then be forced to choose between doing what it has to do to protect its citizens and bowing to the so-called “international community’s” edict. The Jewish state has no choice but to follow its own course for its survival.
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