Israel has agreed to extend a ceasefire that ended a month of fighting in Gaza beyond its Friday expiration date, the Jerusalem Post reports. However, Hamas says it will resume fighting unless significant progress is made in negotiations.
For Hamas, significant progress means significant concessions on its demands for money, an end to Israel’s blockade, and access for Gaza’s Palestinians into Israel. If the past is any guide, Hamas would use the money and the blockade to rearm, and use access into Israel to conduct terrorism.
President Obama seems to side with Hamas. At a press conference today, he essentially parroted Hamas’ demands.
Obama stated that Gaza cannot remain closed off and needs help so it can rebuild. These are Hamas’ core demands. If they are met, Hamas has accomplished the objectives for which it started this war, and will be in an improved position to attack Israel in the future.
Obama claims not to sympathize with Hamas, but his substantive positions belie that assertion, which itself is a non-condemnation and thus far too soft.
Obama insisted that ordinary Palestinians living in the impoverished, blockaded Hamas-ruled territory need to have some prospects for an opening of Gaza so that they do not feel walled off. But they do have that prospect if they throw out Hamas, renounce terrorism, and back up the renunciation through their conduct.
But from all that appears, Obama sees continued Hamas rule as a given. And the “peace plan” he envisages, in which Hamas’ core demands are met, would all but ensure continued Hamas rule. Objectively, this amounts to sympathy — and more — for Hamas.
This won’t go down well with the Palestinian Authority and its supporters, who would like to see Hamas defeated. Accordingly, Obama offered them a sweetener — renewed peace talks regarding the West Bank, in which Israel will be pressured to make territorial concessions.
In short, as I predicted last night, Israel will be asked to make concessions both to Hamas — which it defeated militarily — and the PA — which was not even a party to the hostilities.
I hate to say it, but if the alternatives are discontinuation of the cease fire and significant negotiating progress along the lines Obama described, perhaps it’s best if Hamas breaks the current cease fire.