Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Why John Kerry's Israel - Gaza Cease Fire Plan Failed

Washington - July 30, 2014 (S2N). A failed weekend attempt by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to bring Qatar and Turkey into Hamas / Israel ceasefire negotiations left Israeli leaders and media critical of Kerry and Israel looking at the U.S. with some serious side eyes.

Kerry's plan to promote a cease-fire floated by Turkey and Qatar (strong supporters of Hamas) catered somewhat to the terms demanded by Hamas. Israel's press has published what it says is a one-page summary of the proposal. The document called on Israel to initiate direct negotiations with Palestinian factions (Hamas). It also promoted an end to Israel's military campaign while giving Hamas concessions on border crossings and outside payments. The proposal aimed to diffuse the military conflict while leaving Hamas in a position to rebuild its terror inventory.

"US secretary of state John Kerry ruined everything, Very senior officials in Jerusalem described the proposal that Kerry put on the table as a 'strategic terrorist attack'" -Ari Shavit of The Haaretz, Israel's leading liberal newspaper.

As Israel's foray into Gaza continued, the goal of America's foremost ally in the region is to demolish Hamas as a military and political force. That means decimating unfired rockets and the series of underground tunnels that facilitate weapons smuggling and infiltration into Israel. Those strategic goals would secure victory.

Israel's immediate Arab neighbors silently are hoping for Israel to succeed. Jordan, The Saudis, or Egypt do not want a Palestinian state run by Hamas. The Fatah Palestinian faction that heading up the West Bank also wants Hamas put in check.

Kerry's plan did not sit well with Israel. The proposal leaves Hamas in the position to come back relocked and reloaded in the future. It appears to be absent any leverage to force Hamas to agree to a cease-fire. It hints that the U.S. is putting the burden to stand down on Israel while offering Hamas some attractive amenities.  In short, the proposal suggested a break in the current conflict but does nothing guard against future occurrences of the same.  The cabinet rejected Kerry's proposal hours before he was due to announce it in Cairo. The proposal fueled a brewing distrust of The Obama Administration and renewed Israeli motivation to continue their assault on Hamas.

Ari Shavit, a center-left columnist for Haaretz, wrote,
"Mr. Kerry's decision to go hand in hand with Qatar and Turkey, and formulate a framework amazingly similar to the Hamas framework, was catastrophic. It put wind in the sails of Hamas' political leader Khaled Meshal, allowed the Hamas extremists to overcome the Hamas moderates, and gave renewed life to the weakened regional alliance of the Muslim Brotherhood".

The Palestinian Authority - concerned that Hamas will emerge strengthened from a ceasefire was critical of Kerry. An unnamed official told the Saudi-owned Al-Sharq Al-Awsat that the proposal would "destroy the Egyptian bid" for a ceasefire.

As cease-fire discussions head back to the drawing board, its worth mentioning, Kerry was the messenger. This misstep will have to be fixed by the White House. Critics of the U.S. involvement in past eastern conflicts like Syria and Egypt are watching this one closely. At home in the U.S., this could be the foreign policy common denominator for the Obama Administration.

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