When Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposal for a ceasefire between Gaza militants and Israel reached the latter’s cabinet on Friday, it reportedly united liberals and nationalists in incredulity.
Little wonder. The proposal, if reported accurately, addressed only the concerns of Hamas, the Islamist terrorist organization that controls the Gaza Strip. An unidentified government source told Israel’s Channel 2 television that Kerry had “dug a tunnel under the Egyptian ceasefire proposal” — which Israel accepted and Hamas rejected last week — and accused the American diplomat of “completely capitulating” to Hamas.
According to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, Kerry’s proposal called for a meeting in Cairo, the Egyptian capital, “to negotiate resolution of all issues necessary to achieve a sustainable ceasefire and enduring solution to the crisis in Gaza.” Such issues included “arrangements to secure the opening of crossings, allow the entry of goods and people and ensure the social and economic livelihood of the Palestinian people living in Gaza, transfer funds to Gaza for the payment of salaries for public employees and address all security issues.”
The hundreds of rockets that have rained down on Israel in recent weeks were apparently not mentioned in the text, nor were the dozens of tunnels Hamas has dug to launch armed raids into Israel.
Nor, for that matter, was the fact that Hamas is wholly dedicated to killing Jews (not just Israelis), is hiding weapons in hospitals and schools, using civilians as human shields and altogether responsible for the latest round of violence that began when members of its organization abducted and killed three Jewish teenagers in the West Bank last month.
Presumably this is meant by “all security issues”?
Israel can hardly be blamed for rejecting a ceasefire on Kerry’s conditions. While Hamas complains about closed border crossings, the fact is that Israel continues to let through food and medicine. It only blocks the sort of materials Hamas has used not to build homes and roads but rockets and tunnels. Yet Israel is expected to consider reopening the border? And allow the financing of “public employees” who are, in fact, terrorists bent on its destruction?
Hamas — which came to power through a 2006 election and a falling out with the more moderate Fatah party of President Mahmoud Abbas the following year — has done anything but “ensure the social and economic livelihood of the Palestinian people living in Gaza.” It has ruined the lives of the residents of Gaza by directing the territory’s limited resources toward waging wars on Israel it stands no chance of winning. Yet, as Kerry sees it, the onus is on Israel to make concessions? To end a war it did not start nor want?
Adding insult to injury, Kerry tried to involve Turkey and Qatar in mediating a truce. The prime minister of the first country, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has accused Israel of perpetrating “genocide” in Gaza and claimed it “surpassed Hitler in barbarism” by bombing suspected terrorist targets in Gaza, killing hundreds of Palestinians. The second country hosts the headquarters of Hamas in its capital and is the organization’s principal international backer. Kerry expects these countries to help make peace?
What Kerry asked Israel to do was not to negotiate or be prepared to enter into a reasonable compromise. What he asked Israel to do was consider surrendering. That it will never do.