Let’s take a preliminary look at the advantages and disadvantages of the cease fire agreement, from an Israeli and traditional pro-Western perspective. There are two big advantages. First, the agreement puts an end, at least for now, to the bombardment of Israel. I suspect that Hamas was approaching the end of its ability effectively to bombard and, for this reason, was willing to agree to the cease fire. Even so, Hamas probably would still have killed a more Israelis, and inflicted additional property damage and sheer terror, had the agreement not been reached.
Second, the agreement means that Israel will not undertake, at least for now, an invasion of Gaza. Such an invasion would have been bloody. Now, that bloodshed is avoided.
A third advantage exists to the extent that the U.S. made secret promises to Israel in exchange for its agreement to the cease fire (one hopes that Israel demanded some). Abstract promises and guarantees from Obama regarding Israel’s security are meaningless. But let’s hope that Israel received concrete promises pertaining to weaponry and the like.
Now to the disadvantages. First, Hamas won. Why? Because it bombarded Israel and was not crushed for it. And because Israel reportedly agreed to an easing of its blockade of the Gaza Strip. The easing may be substantial or it may be minor. In either case, it means that, as a result of its rocket attacks on Israel, Hamas comes away not just largely in one piece, but also in a better position than it would be in had it not bombarded Israel. So Hamas’ aggression has been rewarded.
Second, because Hamas wins, Israel loses. There is no such thing as a win-win deal with an enemy whose goal is your destruction.
Depending on the nature of Israel’s concessions on the blockade, Hamas may find itself better able to pose a threat to Israel the next time. And no rational person can believe there’s unlikely to be a next time.
More broadly, the fact that Hamas came out ahead — a bombing campaign against Israel produced Israeli concessions — will strengthen Israel’s many enemies. It will confirm their view that the Arab spring has turned the tide against Israel, and that history is on their side. The importance of this kind of cosmic confidence cannot be overstated.
The fact that Egypt is credited with brokering the deal will be part of the narrative. For one thing, of course, the radical Islamist government that brokered the deal is a creation — indeed, the flower — of the Arab Spring. For another, the fact (or even the perception) that Israel needed a radical Islamist government to bail it out of conflict it didn’t win militarily is a huge victory for the Muslim Brotherhood and, by extension, to Israel’s Islamist enemies everywhere.
This bring us to Iran. What will the mullahs think of this saga? One takeaway is that Israel did not defeat the weakest of its enemies. This follows Israel’s failure to defeat Hezbollah in the last Lebanon war. Iran will believe that, increasingly, Israel is a paper tiger that has lost the will to fight. This, in turn, will embolden Iran and its allies/puppets.
In addition, Iran will have observed that the U.S. constrained Israel in this conflict. For this reason too, Iran will conclude that it has less to fear from Israel than it might have supposed. The fact that the U.S. has become a regional peace broker — a neutral, in effect — rather than a reliable supporter of Israeli military action, will embolden Iran and its allies/puppets.
Finally, in terms of Iran, the agreement prevents the full degradation of Hamas in Gaza. Thus, if war between Israel and Iran comes, Hamas will be a more useful ally (or tool) of Iran than if there had been no cease fire.
A third disadvantage is that Israel reportedly has agreed to cease the targeting of terrorists like Ahmed al-Jabari, who was killed by an Israeli air strike at the outset of this conflict. This means that Hamas operatives can kill Israelis, or cause them to be killed, and then walk the streets of Gaza without fear of Israeli retaliation.
It’s amazing, but not surprising, that the Obama administration would broker such a deal. In one of its very few positive accomplishments, the administration has systematically killed al Qaeda terrorists through drone attacks. We do not wait for them to attack; we kill the bad guys even if they have not yet succeeded in killing Americans. Yet, thanks to the good offices of Hillary Clinton, Israel apparently now must pass up opportunities to kill terrorists who have murdered Israeli citizens.
Weighing the advantages and the disadvantages of the cease fire, I conclude that this is a bad deal for Israel and a setback for those who are serious about dealing with Islamic terrorism. By pushing for the deal, the Obama administration has demonstrated once again that it is no good friend of Israel.