Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Gaza Ceasefire: Another Game Of Chicken

Hamas has reacted to Israel's unilateral ceasefire with a unilateral ceasefire--complete with continue rocket fire and a warning that Israel had better leave within a week.

This seems like a clever ploy--at the expense of Palestinians under Hamas rule, not that Gazans have ever been a major consideration of Hamas, possibly the first terrorist group to use an entire territory as its own human shield.

If Israel really has done everything it wanted to--or at least what it can--do, then they really are about to leave and Hamas will once again claim victory as it did during the Disengagement. Staying in Gaza when there is nothing more for them to do will only add to the pressure and the danger to Israel.

So what was the purpose then of Israel's unilateral ceasefire? David Hazony writes:
There are exactly two possibilities here. Either the cease-fire is a tactical pause, aimed at re-establishing Israel’s international standing in advance of the final push, or offering the Hamas leadership the chance to relocate to Syria before being removed by force. Or it is yet another in a long series of Israeli failures to fight terror — ventures that start with a large pile of political will and public backing, and end with capitulation to international pressure that inevitably lets the terrorists off the hook, to later regroup, rearm, and come back stronger. This was the story of Arafat after Beirut; the story of Hezbollah in 2006; will it be the story of Hamas in 2009?
What do you think: will Israel withdraw under Hamas fire, having made their point--and regardless of the toll such a move will take on the chances of Kadima and Labor in the upcoming Israeli elections? Or will Israel instead push on and ensure that Hamas is phased out?

Place your bets. Hazony apparently has:
If I had to bet, I would still put my money on an eventual removal of the Hamas regime: It is still in the clear interests of Kadima, Israel, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority, and Barack Obama. The timetable? Weeks, not months. Israel holds elections on February 10, and we can be fairly certain that the government’s future rests on being able to show the public that this war, with all its horrors on both sides, was not in vain.
I am not so optimistic--I think that world pressure can even trump political ambition.

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