Monday, August 11, 2014
Time to draw the line
Israel has agreed to another 72-hour cease-fire. The truce took effect at midnight Sunday, and the Israeli delegation to the cease-fire talks arrived in Cairo on Monday.
That is all well and good, except for the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should let it be known, in no uncertain terms, that this is the last time Israel will abide by any such limited cease-fire.
Should Hamas resume its rocket and mortar fire at Israel, the next cease-fire must be free of any deadline, until such time as the cease-fire talks end, be they with a good result or no result. There is one word missing from Israel's current agreement to a cease-fire: "Enough!"
Rather than indulging in parliamentary manipulations about how to increase his party's political power in the Knesset prior to the general elections -- a unique method patented by Yisrael Beytenu leader and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman -- the foreign minister should initiate a move that would make it clear to the world that cease-fires do not come for free.
He must use every platform at his disposal, via every Israeli mission worldwide, to illustrate that Israel is the victim here; to stress that apparently, no one seems to want to settle the score with those indiscriminately firing rockets at Israeli civilians; and to show how the residents of the Gaza vicinity communities have become -- to use a phrase coined by Israel's third Prime Minister Levi Eshkol following the Six-Day War -- "Samson the weakling."
Israel has been able to use Iron Dome to ward off Hamas' mid- and long-rage rockets, it has been able to destroy Hamas' tunnel infrastructure -- the cost of which has been pegged in the billions -- and nearly 1,000 terrorists have been killed in the fighting.
Even if the Arab world hates Israel, the majority of the nations comprising it detest Hamas even more. Under these circumstances, it is inconceivable that the world -- especially Europe -- will encourage the Gaza-based terror group to fool Israel. Our national honor should be taken into consideration, even if it is not at the core of the diplomatic conduct Israel should be demonstrating at this time.
This does not mean the Israel Defense Forces should be ordered to launch another incursion of Gaza Strip. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's basic strategy is more practical. Whatever arrangements are reached with Hamas will exist as "interim agreements" that will be part of a "crisis management" policy. Until such time that the Arab world takes the reins of power away from Hamas in favor of the Palestinian Authority's institutions, there is no real chance of reaching a permanent agreement in the Gaza Strip.
That is why the world would be wise to listen to Netanyahu. What he is demanding is "long-term calm," and while this may seem like a lot, it is significantly less than a permanent agreement and the end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
This is why the alternative to Israel's refusal to follow Hamas' dictates when it comes to limited-time cease-fires does not lie with expanding the Gaza campaign but with perseverance: continuing with the aerial campaign, using special ground forces when needed, and, of course, carrying out targeted assassinations when necessary. The terrorists must not be allowed to regain their footing.
If Jewish civilians cannot live in peace in Kibbutz Kfar Aza, their Palestinian counterparts will not live in peace in Gaza. This is the other side to the "quiet equals quiet" premise.
Hamas specializes in setting traps, as the Israeli troops have learned during Operation Protective Edge. Netanyahu and Ya'alon must understand that this is what Hamas is trying to do to Israel in Cairo, as well. The operational objectives must now include one more goal -- enough.