SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITY: GAZA CEASE FIRE REACHED, TIME FOR A FULL SCALE DIPLOMATIC ASSAULT ON MAKING IT LAST AND THEN SOME

http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/21/world/meast/gaza-israel-strike/index.html?hpt=hp_t1

In what may become one of the best developments in the Middle East in the last few years, it looks as if (tentatively) that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Egypt’s Morsi Government, Hamas and Israel have reached a deal that would stop the conflict in Southern Israel. Part of this deal would see Hamas put an end to rocket fire over their border into Israel, which by and large would be a positive revolution beyond words, and would finally give Israel what it demands, which should also open the door to further discussions on enhancing the quality of life for those living in Gaza.

As stated in my most recent piece on the rocket war playing out over the Holy Land, targeted air strikes, high price-tag Iron Dome C-RAM defense systems, ground offensives and the like are a poor solution to a problem that can really only be solved politically, that problem being Hamas’s constant firing of unguided rockets into Israeli population centers and the degrading quality of life for the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip. Although the military measures Israel has taken to suppress the rocket attacks will undoubtedly weaken Hamas’s arsenal and command and control apparatus, these gains will only be temporary, and considering Hamas has thousands of rockets, while Israel is struggling to keep its Iron Dome system stocked with incredibly expensive Tamir interceptors, this whole conflict will continue as a costly stalemate without a real solution or end in sight. Furthermore, a ground offensive may have further weakened Hamas’s ability to launch rockets but it would also polarize the citizens of Gaza further against Israel and toward Hamas, including the Palestinian youth that has a potential to change things for the better years down the line, while enraging the Arab street and inviting escalation of the conflict from outside entities and countries.

Still, many would say that enacting a lasting cease fire with Hamas’s rocketeers is impossible and that the organizations itself is to fractured to adhere to a single treaty or diplomatic agreement. This may be true, but if Hamas’s political wing actually orders a stop to rocket firing and attempts to police that ruling to a reasonable degree, this would be a massive step in the right direction. The issue is what will Israel do when the inevitable happens and even a single rocket lifts off from Gaza once again? In the age of Iron Dome such a threat should be somewhat impotent and mitigated during its flight. With this in mind, it will be key for Israel to be tolerant of such outlying actions, not just for a cease fire to hold but for any chance at reaching a larger peace to be possible. Some will say that is lunacy, that Israel should immediate strike back after any attempt against its security is made. I understand this viewpoint but I do not agree with it in the least. If Israel truly wants the rockets attacks to end, then it must drop the bravado and come to the negotiating table with an open mind while being prepared to display reasonable tolerance when it comes to non-sanctioned attacks. The tit for tat never ending string of violence is an unsustainable and losing strategy when it comes to Israel’s ability to exist and prosper in the future. Further, it distracts from the larger existential threats they face such as a nuclear armed Iran or a Hezbollah armed with chemical weapons looted from Syrian stockpiles.

The truth is that if the Morsi Government actually played ball with the US and Israel in facilitating a cease fire during this incredibly volatile situation, such an act would be a game changer and would set a positive precedent for the region in the post-Arab Spring geo-political environment. Many will say it is a ruse or that there must be hidden agendas behind the Muslim Brotherhood’s actions. That may be so, but I believe in actions over words, and if this deal is legit, and proves to have been made with the best of intentions, than it is a great opportunity to expand such efforts in the future. With this in mind, all parties must not only practice restraint but also use this momentum to immedietly sit down at the bargaining table to figure our long term solutions to the litany of problems that face all the parties involved. The US should demand this, using its billions in aid that is distributed to everyone at the table yearly for leverage if needed. These talks do not have to be grand peace accords or a road-map for a single state solution. Start small and concentrate on the mutually beneficial issues and go from there. You have to break the ice somehow and a small demonstration of potential compromise is ideal place to do so. Such negotiations will be without a doubt extremely challenging and at times highly volatile, but the alternative is not just destructive, it is unsustainable and virtually insane….

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6 Responses to SEIZING THE OPPORTUNITY: GAZA CEASE FIRE REACHED, TIME FOR A FULL SCALE DIPLOMATIC ASSAULT ON MAKING IT LAST AND THEN SOME

  1. algo says:

    I love your aviation articles and analysis. For that, there simply isn’t another resource of comparable value online. However, when you get into international politics… Well, the words escape me.

    What non-sanctioned attacks? The policy of holding Hamas responsible was developed in response to their tactic of using smaller groups for attacks on Israel to score points with Palestinians in Gaza and on the other hand avoid Israeli retaliation against their own infrastructure. Tolerance of attacks? WTF does that mean? Note that the latest escalation started after Hamas members blew up an IED on the fence, blowing off a lieutenant’s arm (and yes Israel wanted the fight – it was strategically useful to clear Hamas’ inventory, but they didn’t started). So implying “non-sanctioned” attacks are to blame is disingenuous at best and extremely naive at worst.

    I can understand the issue with West Bank settlements, Jerusalem, etc. But there are no outstanding issues with land in Gaza. Palestinians are in control of 100% of Gaza and if they weren’t bent on importing rockets, there wouldn’t be a blockade. The truth is Hamas specifically, and Palestinians in general get paid to attack Israel – it is their job. They aren’t very good at it, but still have a decent ROI for Iran’s money. More importantly, people in Gaza don’t know how to do anything else. Arafat, to his credit, managed to convert his intifada-based income stream into an economic development one – he stole over $4 billion from that. Hamas is not as politically savvy in balancing Palestinian street sentiments with international cooperation and “peace talks”. They’re much more comfortable dealing with rockets and collecting money from tunnels. So what diplomatic solutions are you talking about?

    • aviationintel.com says:

      Words escape you when it comes to my views? They are hardly radical man. So if we do not agree 100% than they are worthless? Please keep an open mind as I do with all my commenters.

      Tolerance is actually the IDF policy during cease fires such as this, for instance multiple rocket attacks have taken place since the cease fire, no return vollies or soaring threats from the IDF because they realize that there are elements within Gaza that are fractured from Hamas and Islamic Jihad’s military command structure and it is not worth losing a MUTUALLY BENEFICIAL chance at stopping these attacks permanently, if even a remote chance. Please re-read my post, I do not think you understand my statements: Non-sanctioned attacks after the cease fire and outlying attacks should not be responded too so that the legitimacy of this cease fire can be proven large scale. I think you are misunderstanding the use of that term.

      Where did land issues come into this piece, maybe I missed something. But if you want the importing of rockets to end (they do not need to import all of them now as Iran has invested heavily in indigenous means of production)the only way to do this is a political solution, the Israel knows that they cannot permanently stop the proliferation of these weapons, they have stated that many times. A bloody ground invasion would have only have decreased Hamas’s arsenal for a finite period of time. In other words this cycle will never end without a mutation in the relationship between the regional power brokers, Israel, the US and Hamas.

      Also, this whole conflict is a dream for Iran, bog Israel down in a major internal conflict, that could turn external at a flick of Iran’s Hezbollah switch, all the while they march toward breakthrough capability.

  2. algo says:

    I don’t see your views as radical and don’t mistake my criticism for closed-mindedness – one has to understand what is proposed in order to criticise it. It’s just, if I had to sum it up succinctly, this post appears to be missing the depth of analysis and understanding present in aviation-related ones.

    1) The whole premise of tolerance of non-sanctioned attacks is bogus. It gives up a significant amount of deterrence for what exactly? Israeli responses to smaller groups were never a problem for Hamas so said tolerance is a non-solution looking for a problem. What Hamas can’t allow is its commanders being assassinated. However, in this case it was a response to a sanctioned attack conducted by Hamas members.

    2) I may not have been entirely clear bringing land into this, so let me elaborate. You appear to think that the solution to the Gaza conflict (both short-term and long-term) lies squarely in the political dimension and that to achieve it, Israel will have to compromise. That certainly makes sense when applied to West Bank, but not when it comes to Gaza. What do you expect the exchange of interests to look like? What is it that Hamas actually wants from Israel that would end the conflict? And what can Israel provide? This is why land is important – when it comes to Gaza Palestinians already have 100% of it. Borders wouldn’t be an issue if they weren’t used to smuggle weapons (or materials to make them). In terms of holding on to power and income streams, it is actually in Hamas interests to stop the conflict immediately and get rid of the rockets regardless of what Israel is doing – the influx of aid and money for economic development would be tremendous. There are 3 reasons its not done: 1) they can’t ideologically their charter calls for destruction of Israel and changing it would cause a civil war within the group 2) most Palestinian don’t want that 3) they don’t know how make money from it – smuggling tunnels showed this – they would rather collect protection money than taxes. A political solution is not just impossible – believing in it and trying to implement it is a dangerous fantasy that will cost lives and prolong this mess.

    3) So what if they produce shorter-range missiles locally, they still need to smuggle in raw material.

    4) Of course the entire conflict is in Iran’s interest. However, the current escalation is not. The timing is wrong. What essentially happened is Hamas’ inventory was devastated. Yes, they can still bite, but the poison has temporarily been drained. This is one reason Israel agreed to a cease-fire. They achieved their goal of reducing potential retaliation from Gaza for an Iranian attack. But make no mistake, ground operation will be absolutely necessary sometime in the next 2 years. Israel hopes that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are dealt with by that time.

    5) Finally, whatever political understanding exist on or off paper, Iran pays the money and so orders the music. When they say jump, Hamas asks how high and then contorts into shapes to make sure that their jumps don’t cause enough ruckus for the leadership to get killed. What is the value of political understandings when they will be broken on Iranian whim?

  3. The depth of analysis is as deep as it needs to be, this is my viewpoint, what more do you need here a term paper? Trust me, I have followed this issue very closely for many reasons that I do not wish to elaborate on. I think any opportunity to attempt some progress is 100% worthwhile, with anyone, even with the North Koreans (I wrote a piece on that too here I believe). What is there to loose? The free world looking at the side that blows such an opportunity off and deeming them warmongers? The old adage “they had the chance” goes a long way, especially when you are dropping bombs on peoples heads while the world watches. Once again, I am not against Israel taking the measures it needs to provide for its own security, I applaud it, but when an opportunity for real progress appears, they should take it.

    Read my post, it is not daily business here when I am talking about tolerance to non-sanctioned attacks, if they are in a cease fire that is largely holding or sitting at a negotiating table I don’t think either side should blow any progress being made because of a 3rd party actor’s attempt to derail said progress. This is not just my opinion, look at what is happening now, they are doing the right thing, not reacting to isolated forms of aggression so that the situation can deescalate. It’s like the death penalty, you think that Israel’s clear ability to counterstrike quickly is a major deterrent to third party actors who are trying to re-ignite a deadly exchange, just like the death penalty keeps would be murderers from killing right? Laughable. It does not work, it’s tit-for-tat. Might as well tell suicide bombers not to carry out their heinous deed because they will face the death penalty for doing so. Such reactionary measures may be tactically relevant but strategically they are total loser during periods where progress is potentially feasible, if even small in nature.
    Like my piece says, this is not blanket ROE it is for times like this one right now and when progress is being made. A major airstrike right now would re-ignite this conflict, many want this because it is “good for business,” those are the actors that need to be marginalized, and ignoring their attempts to derail progress is a good way of doing this. If Hamas clearly starts lobbing rockets in mass again then retaliate decisively, but only then. Cooler heads are prevailing, this is a good thing in that region of the world in my opinion.

    I am not going into a solution to solve the Palestinian issue, small steps here is all I am asking for, progress in such a direction would allow for a better idea of what give and take would work down the road for a greater peace. I am reading your logic about Hamas’s charter and on and on, listen you basically are arguing against any major positive societal change that has occurred in the last three centuries. Keep doing what your doing even though it clearly does not work or even may be amoral as the ends justify the means right? Never believe peace is possible because it could “cause a civil war,” or “ignite a greater battle.” I find this to be a sad outlook and one that is not historically accurate. Yes change is hard, and the road may be very rocky getting to a better place, but doing nothing, attempting nothing, and settling for one of humanity’s most dismal situations is cowardly. What do you suggest? Just settling into this situation from now to eternity or annexing Gaza and the West Bank and setting up tent cities in Jordan and the Sinai on a much larger scale than those that already exist? I hear no hope of a solution or any ideas for even the smallest piece of a solution at that. Conceptually, these types of arguments were made about the conflict with the IRA, slavery, civil rights, apartheid, even Israel’s relations with its own neighbors who were actively hostile toward them for decades, it goes on and on. You have to think its possible for it to one day be possible, period. Once again this is not unrealistic as there have been incredible precedents for change on a grand scale in even our most recent history.

    Smuggling in raw materials is a lot different than components, you know this.

    Best estimates I have heard is that they still have over 5k rockets (I have heard that the longer range rockets were largely destroyed in the air campaign and I have heard that very few were destroyed, both by IDF or Israeli officials), and once again the IDF cannot get to many storage facilities and production houses via air-power. Taking down the known facilities would take a protracted ground operation in an incredibly dense urban environment.

    On Iran’s influence and certain truces or negotiated deals: that may end up being true, but what is wrong with attempting to carve out a deal and wait for the world to see Hamas destroy it on an Iranian whim? How is this a negative at this point?

    What is your solution here, nothing? Just heavier handed attack and counterattack until Hamas has guided missiles and then WMD and then? If you think an embargo or blockade will stop weapons entering Gaza than man you should join the US Border Patrol or ICE, they could use you. Israel even knows this is impossible. What would solve the problem reasonably, expulsion of Palestinians? All these options just help ensure that the blood feud continues forever until something very bad happens. In the process raising millions of future terrorists under an even more potent anti-Israeli reality than what exists today not just from inside Israel’s borders but from outside. This problem will take generations to solve like all major socio-political issues of the last 300+ years, why not get started now or at least attempt to do so?

    It’s funny I have been accused many more times on this site of being overtly pro-Israeli than being a dove or even a moderate when it comes to these issues. As always I believe that Israel has the right to defend itself and even in a preemptive manner against potential catastrophic circumstances, all I ask is that when the potential for progress presents itself that they try and exhaust it to its very end and even be the bigger man in the room in an attempt to make a deal, even if it is relatively small. In the meantime it may be necessary to protect this opportunity via patience and de-escalate whenever possible.

  4. Dainon says:

    1. What deterrence are territory strikes, especially when Hamas’goal is to weaken Israel’s political position (no amount of rocket attacks truly damages Israel). Funny how people don’t understand how Israel is Goliath to the Palestinian David, here; David doesn’t expect to win most these engagements. Plus, the West, and its allies seem to forget bombing is a net producer of combatants

    2. Exchange of interests is an interesting question

    3. How sophisticated are rockets? What is the political effect if an embargo is placed on everything which can be used for rocket building?

    4. Israel agreed to a cease fire after all the major damage producing capability had been expended?

    5. ‘it doesn’t matter because Iran will always keep the conflict going’. Is the answer then to just kill all Palestinians? Stay in a perpetual state of war (at least until the USA goes bankrupt)?

  5. algo says:

    @Dainon

    1. Rocket attacks deal significant damage to Israeli economy. While casualties are few, it’s mostly due to the defense measures implemented and significant deleterious effects of daily lives of the people in southern Israel. Every time a rocket is launched, sirens sound, stopping lives and business for 15-20 minutes. Who’s going to buy property, open businesses, or otherwise invest in areas that are subject to daily rocket attacks? Who would come there to raise their kids? Israel is only the Goliath if you look at the conflict in isolation, which most people seem to do and naively so. That’s really not the case. In the green corner you have Iran, Turkey & Egypt with their own geopolitical aspirations, Saudi Arabian Wahhabi movement (with $billions! behind it), Muslim Brotherhood, Hezbollah, plus useful well-meaning fools on the European side. Together, they far outgun and outspend Israel. This is why US support for Israel is so important.

    2. It’s not just interesting, it’s the central question of any political or diplomatic negotiation. In order to achieve settlement interests need to be exchanged. What does that look like for Hamas and Israel? I posited that such exchange is impossible and have yet to see any statements disproving that view, whether from Ty or anyone else.

    3. Israel’s embargo is not really about rockets as much as keeping materials that can be used to fortify infrastructure out of Hamas’ hands, which would make it impervious to air attacks and therefore much bolder. Look back at the Lebanon conflict and you’ll get the idea. That was a loss for Israel militarily, politically, and strategically. Obviously they also want to keep rockets out.

    4. Israel agreed to the cease-fire because of US pressure. The reason it caved quickly rather than dragging it out is because the potential of Hamas to conduct rocket attacks against Israel has been significantly diminished. At least, as much as it can be from the air. Without US pressure and Egyptian threats, ground op would have taken place.

    5. Just because I don’t propose a valid solution to this equation, doesn’t diminish my criticism of the invalid diplomatic solution. Claiming that a solution that would satisfy most people, but doesn’t actually apply, is right because there aren’t any others strikes me as intellectually lazy.

    @aviationintel
    Ty, I enjoyed reading your responses. I will try to address them by commenting on your new post on the topic, time permitting.

    @every one
    Bonus questions: Would you advocate diplomatic negotiations and cease-fire agreements with Al Qaeda? Why or why not? Is Hamas any different for Israel than Al Qaeda is for US? Why or why not? If Mexican cartels, being intermixed with general Mexican population, started shooting rockets at US civilians into the areas of Texas that were annexed by US during the Mexican-American war, what would be appropriate limit for US response? Would you advocate for restraint against attacks “not sanctioned” by the Zetas? Should US sacrifice some of its civilians (even if that number is small) to avoid greater civilian casualties on the other side? Why or why not? This may be hypothetical, but its not trivial. These questions are meant to examine your own intellectual and moral integrity. I would love to hear the answers.

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