(The National Interest) – Israel’s unilateral ceasefire in Gaza has left Israel with no strategic goals achieved. As attested by the Winograd Commission-set up by the Israeli government in 2006 to draw lessons from the then-recent war with Hezbollah-Israel, so adept at engaging tactically, cannot consolidate gains due to its numerous contradictory goals. One is forced to recall Kissinger’s statement decades ago that Israel does not have policy, but politics.
On January 16, 2009, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and then-Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. This statement constitutes the basis of U.S.-led interception of smuggled weapons into Gaza by monitoring the Persian Gulf, Sudan and neighboring states. The United States is taking a leading role in lending its military and intelligence assets, including detection and surveillance equipment, to governments in the Middle East that are allied with this endeavour. Why did Israel not push for this mechanism during the eight years it was being bombarded with rockets? Why did the Bush administration rush it through before it left office?
Ceasefires, like the one recently declared at the end of the conflict in Gaza, have traditionally been used by terrorist organisations to build up their weapons capabilities. They aren’t effective in the long term. The current ceasefire could heighten Hamas’s stature by recognizing it as a party and give it greater legitimacy. Hamas remains in possession of at least several hundred rockets, some of which are able to reach major population centers, and several others are still being lobbed at Israel.
Hamas’s capacity to rapidly reconstitute its capabilities was facilitated by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon who sought a ceasefire in and of itself without caring about its effectiveness at preventing smuggling and enhancing security for Israel. To this end he declared: “We cannot wait for all the details, the mechanisms, to be conclusively negotiated and agreed, while civilians continue to be traumatized, injured or killed.” Similarly, when asked about the exact details of the agreement, and what new contributions it provides, Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni acknowledged, “This is a beginning . . . I completely agree that we have now an understanding and it needs to be translated, also in the future, to more concrete measures.” Israel’s subscription to the vague agreement with the United States monitoring weapons smuggling into Gaza reflects the ambiguous aims that it had in going to war in the territory in the first place.
Read Full Article: The National Interest
Barak Seener is the CEO of Strategic Intelligentia and a former Middle East Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). He is on Twitter at @BarakSeener.