There is no mention of a commitment by the US to do something about the smuggling -- simply a promise to talk to the Egyptians about it.
What this official is referring to was spelled out earlier in this same article:
"Washington understands well that Israel’s restrictions on the Gaza Strip are related to arms smuggling, and that a total relaxation of the restrictions would necessitate assurances that arms stop pouring into the enclave, a senior US official said Monday."
"a total relaxation of restrictions" refers to Israel's sea blockade of Gaza. Washington is being sooo understanding in recognizing that Israel cannot lift that blockade while Hamas is trying to bring in further weapons. Washington will point this out to Egypt as negotiations continue. Likely the US will stand behind Israel's right to sustain that blockade under current circumstances.
But we have no indication that the US will intervene to stop that smuggling.
Then I invite you to look at the text of a Memorandum of Understanding from January 16, 2009, immediately after Cast Lead, the last war with Hamas,
This was signed by the US and Israel. It specifies a host of steps the US was committed to taking to stop smuggling of weapons by Hamas into Gaza. The result? Hamas stockpiled tens of thousands of rockets and missiles in Gaza, including those Iranian Fajr missiles.
Why expect more now, when there isn't even an agreement this time that the US signed?
Make no mistake about it: If there is going to be any serious effort made to stop smuggling, it will be by Israel.
We are not going to send IDF troops into the no-man's land of Sinai, which is controlled by jihadist terrorists. And re-taking the Philadelphi Corridor does not seem to be in the plans right now.
If Israel stops smuggling, it will be by intercepting weapons before they reach the Sinai. We've done it before. While there was no official acknowledgement of responsibility (there wouldn't be), we can assume it was Israel that hit the Iranian-managed munitions factory in Sudan recently. And there have been weapons caravans traveling in the Sudanese desert that have been hit.
It is difficult for me to imagine that there won't be some sort of "intervention" with regard to the Iranian ship (sailing under various flags) that is presently carrying Iranian missiles intended for use against Israel. This is critical.
But what happens if rockets and missiles are successfully brought into Gaza again?
My own hard-nosed approach says that taking out such rockets and missiles is a justified pre-emptive defensive action. There is only one reason such weaponry would be brought into Gaza, and that is for Hamas to use against Israel, at the time of Hamas's choosing.
But it is not likely that this is the way Israel will play it. In the past, Israel has adopted a policy of "quiet for quiet" -- meaning we don't hit them until they start. There seems scant hope that it will be any different this time.
This is what our prime minister had to say to pilots at the Palmahim Air Force Base on Sunday (emphasis added):
"You carried out the missions that were defined for you in a precise manner. If the quiet is maintained – you will be able to continue preparing for the next campaign.
"If the quiet is violated, you will go back and hit what's left...If the quiet continues, it will be met with quiet. If it is violated, we will respond strongly."
There is no suggestion in these words that if additional weaponry is brought in the rules change.
My assumption is that this has to do with the moral equivalency approach of the international community, and the pressures that are put on us. If we hit first, nations of the world will not see it as a defensive action. We will be broadly accused of aggression, and support for us in the ensuing war would be diminished. Especially would this be so now, as we would be accused of breaching the ceasefire.
Better, apparently goes the reasoning, if we wait until they hit and then respond with a powerful blow, which will have been thoroughly prepared.
The comfort is in knowing what we can do to them -- we've just proved it.
One must hope that any infraction of the ceasefire on the part of Hamas will bring a significant Israeli response. No looking the other way, no minimizing the size of the infraction, no justifying it (saying perhaps that the attack was by a renegade jihadist group that Hamas cannot control).
But the history of this conflict is not reassuring on this score. It is only when damage is done, that the response gets serious.
Commentator Uri Heitner speaks to this:
"Our experience tells us that after a short time, the Palestinians will begin to chip away at the cease-fire and fire one mortar shell. Israel, following the suffering of the last round of fighting, will fear an escalation and will avoid sending the entire south into bomb shelters again because of one mortar. So they will then shoot two mortars, followed by a Qassam rocket, until we gradually find ourselves mired in yet another 'round' of exchanging fire. If this happens, the operation was a waste.
Heartily do I agree, quibbling only with the word "disproportionate": A "proportionate" response does not mean we shoot one mortar for their one mortar. That's a common misunderstanding. A "proportionate" response in international law is what is takes to stop what they are doing to us.
"The diagram was leaked by officials from a country critical of Iran’s atomic program to bolster their arguments that Iran’s nuclear program must be halted before it produces a weapon. The officials provided the diagram only on condition that they and their country not be named.
"David Albright, whose Institute for Science and International Security is used by the U.S. government as a go-to source on Iran’s nuclear program, said the diagram looks genuine but seems to be designed more 'to understand the process' than as part of a blueprint for an actual weapon in the making."
So they're not there yet. But if this isn't a wake-up call...
I am mindful, when I see this news, of the fact that Netanyahu's calculus on how to respond to Hamas may well be factoring in the need to address the growing danger of Iran.
Mahmoud Abbas says he's going to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, seeking a change in UN status for the PA that is a step towards Palestinian statehood. And he has the support of sufficient nations to get it -- even France has just signed on to support him. I will be dealing with this in the next few days.
As it comes down to the wire, the US, which is still seeking negotiations on a "two-state solution," is attempting to block this on a procedural technicality.
Israel's position on this seems to be in a state of bewildering and frustrating flux. First there were warnings that we can respond as we see fit, as this action will have gone beyond the pale with regard to what can be accepted within the context of Oslo negotiations. Then it was said that we'd wait and see.
Now, the government is saying that this will not be considered a cancellation of Oslo, and that other punitive measures will be levied.
"This position ...marks a remarkable alteration of Jerusalem’s previous stance.
“We won’t cancel any of our agreements,” the senior official [in Jerusalem] said."
Do I see the firm hand of Obama in this turn-about? Do we begin to have a clue as to what's going on here?
1 – **Benjamin Netanyahu; 2 – **Gideon Sa’ar; 3 – Gilad Erdan; 4 – **Silvan Shalom; 5 – **Yisrael Katz; 6 – *Danny Danon; 7 – *Reuven Rivlin; 8 – **Moshe Ya’alon; 9 – *Ze’ev Elkin; 10 - *Tzipi Hotovely; 11 – *Yariv Levin; 12 – **Yuli Edelstein; 13 - *Haim Katz; 14 – *Miri Regev; 15 – Moshe Feiglin; 16 – **Yuval Steinitz; 17 – Tzachi Hanegbi; 18 – **Limor Livnat; 19 – *Ofir Akunis; 20 – *Gila Gamliel; 21 – *Carmel Shama Hacohen; 22 – David Bitton; 23 – Uri Faraj; 24 – Keti Shitrit; 25 – *Ayoub Kara; 26 – Shuki Ohana; 27 – David Amsalem; 28 – Yitzchak Danino; 29 - Keren Barak; 30 - Abraham Negosa; 31 – David Even Tzur; 32 – Shai Keinan; 33 – Avraham Simhon; 34 - Nurit Koren; 35 – Moshe Ben Zaken.
Reuven Rivlin is Knesset Speaker; Ze'ev Elkin is Coalition Chair. This is the first time that Moshe Feiglin, who has identified as very far right but has moderated his stance, has placed on the list in a way that assures him a seat. On the other hand, **Dan Meridor is too low on the list to make it, and **Benny Begin's and Avi Dichter's chances are slim. There are a number of newcomers on the list.
I believe that Avigdor Lieberman, Chair of Yisrael Beitenu, will select the members of that party's list, and that final lists that will be presented to the electorate must be submitted next week.
In coming days I will be writing at greater length about other political events. At the present, matters are still very fluid.
Tzipi Livni, who headed Kadima and then retired about six months ago, has just refused a top spot on the list of Yesh Atid, offered by party head Yair Lapid, and has now said she will start her own party, "The Movement." Seven members of Kadima hope to leave that party to join her. She is being severely criticized for dividing the center/left in a way that helps ensure a Likud-Yisrael Beitenu win.
I said there was good news!