Wednesday, November 21, 2012
BREAKING: Gaza Ceasefire To Take Effect Tonight ( And The Back Story)
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Egyptian equivalent Mohamed Kamel Amr held a joint press conference today announcing a ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel with Egypt as a mediating partner.
The deal basically takes effect at 8 PM local time. Both sides are to cease attacks on each other, Israel is to cease targeting Hamas leaders, and to take some undefined steps to ease its sea blockade of Gaza after a 24-hour period.
Now,here's what actually happened.
According to a couple of my notorious lil' birdies who are very much in a position to know, the Israelis fully intended to go into Gaza and eradicate Hamas. A country like Israel doesn't call up that many reserves and affect its economy unless they were serious about the matter.
But then the Obama Administration intervened.
They were perfectly happy for Israel to go in to Gaza and take out Hamas, but insisted that they then turn Gaza over to the Palestinian Authority. This was supposed to strengthen PA President Mahmoud Abbas as 'Palestine's savior' . As as a kicker, President Obama insisted that Israel immediately declare a Palestinian State in Gaza and most of Judea and Samaria, including areas currently under Israeli sovereignty from which the Jewish residents would then be removed. These were also to be turned over to Abbas.
If the Israelis were unwilling to have the IDF do Mahmoud Abbas' dirty work for him and then give up large areas populated by Jews, then the Obama Administration told the Israelis the U.S. would not back an IDF ground assault in Gaza.
So they Israelis took the ceasefire, essentially meaning that Hamas is going to be left in place to regroup and fight another day. And can claim a victory.
That's way Israel appeared to be delaying their ground operation for so long..the real back and forth was between the Obama Administration and Israel.
As a sop for being cooperative, President Obama said in a statement that he congratulated PM Netanyahu for accepting the truce and that the US would use the opportunity offered by a ceasefire to intensify efforts to help Israel address its security needs, especially the issue of the smuggling of weapons and explosives into Gaza.
How that is going to happen is, shall we say, problematical. Apparently - wait for it- The White House expects the new Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt to take charge of policing Hamas.After all, that approach worked so well in keeping Hezbollah in Lebanon from rearming after the 2006 war, even with a UN peacekeeping force on the ground.
The President also said that he was committed to seeking additional funding for Iron Dome and other US-Israel missile defense programs.
What's really behind this, of course, is an effort to strengthen Egypt's Mohammed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood government as a regional player and improve ties between the Islamists and the U.S.
It also takes the heat off Morsi since had Israel gone into Gaza, there would have been widespread agitating for Egypt to send 'volunteers' to fight the Jews.
We'll see if this takes hold. I'd be surprised if it didn't, since it's mostly on Hamas' terms.