The president of the United States is pushing the democratic government of Israel to accept a Gaza ceasefire that would help the Hamas jihad group quickly rebuild its damaged arsenal for future terror attacks on Israelis.
But it could also get the war off the voting public’s TV screens before it does more harm to the president’s lousy poll ratings during the November elections.
The plan would merely “kick the can down the road. He was basically calling for an unconditional ceasefire,” said Jonathan Schanzer, the vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
In a Sunday call with the president of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, Obama “made clear the strategic imperative of instituting an immediate, unconditional humanitarian ceasefire that ends hostilities now,” according to a White House statement.
Obama called for a ceasefire that immediately “addresses Gaza’s long-term development and economic needs” via trade deals with outside countries, while postponing Hamas’ disarmament into the vague future, according to a statement from the White House.
Hamas’ primary short-term demand is for trade routes to be opened via its borders with Israel and Egypt, and via seaports. All those routes are now tightly curbed after Hamas used those routes to import thew weaponry, tunneling supplies, and rockets it is now using to attack Israelis.
But Obama does not demand any immediate or future concessions by Hamas, such as the destruction of the rockets and tunnels it is now using to attack Israelis. Instead, those Israeli goals will be talked about later, said the White House statement. “The President stressed the U.S. view that, ultimately, any lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must ensure the disarmament of terrorist groups and the demilitarization of Gaza,” said the statement.
The result is that Obama is pushing for a ceasefire that would grant Hamas its most important short-term goals, while rejecting or ignoring Israel’s short-term and long-term goals, which included destroying the tunnels and delegitimizing Hamas.
Obama’s Sunday statement matched the demands made earlier by his secretary of state, John Kerry.
Those demands were panned in Israel.
“The draft Kerry passed to Israel on Friday shocked the [Israeli] cabinet ministers not only because it was the opposite of what Kerry told them less than 24 hours earlier, but mostly because … it was everything Hamas could have hoped for,” said a summary in the Haaretz newspaper, which is Israel’s version of The New York Times.
The Obama plan would also sideline the governments in Egypt and the Arab-majority West Bank area of Israel, and boost the role of the pro-Hamas governments in Qatar and Turkey.
Turkey’s Islamist president is running for re-election, and on July 25, media reports said that he has decided to use the Turkish navy to escort a sea convoy of Hamas supporters carrying aid to Hamas.
Schanzer and other commentators downplayed the Obama and Kerry proposals as incompetence, not hostility.
“Kerry isn’t anti-Israeli; on the contrary, he’s a true friend to Israel. But his conduct in recent days over the Gaza cease-fire raises serious doubts over his judgment and perception of regional events,” said the Haaretz article.
Obama “has stood by Israel, and cited it right to defend itself,” said Schanzer. Obama also helped fund the Iron Dome missile-defense system, he added.
But his “secretary of state forward a ceasefire plan that was concocted by two Hamas funders,” Schanzer said. “This should not be allowed to stand. Congress should make it clear that this is not OK.”
“American foreign policy looks like a shambles,” he said.