Thursday, August 28, 2014

Israel’s Diplomatic Failure in Operation Protective Edge

In Operation Protective Edge, Hamas weakened Israel  by milking PR and playing power politics. The  joined the  Egyptian instigated Palestinian unity coalition, headed by Abbas , a moderate Muslim invented by the west and in so doing gained legitimacy that lend credence to their actions against Israel. They controlled media reporting in Gaza,  threatening journalists. The world read that thousands had been killed. mostly civilians, and saw pictures of dead babies and mothers screaming in grief  and accepted claims of Israel’s brutality.

Hamas controlled the playing field and called the shots.  They successfully terrorized Israelis, aiming at Tel Aviv, Israel’s international airport, Jerusalem in nonstop barrages of missiles. They called ceasefires, allegedly for humanitarian aid, obtained material to build missiles and then broke off ceasefires. Leveraged UNRWA, whose leadership in Gaza is Hamas, to store weapons in schools and hospitals and fanned the flames of UN’s anti-Israeli predisposition with indignant claims that Israel had bombed the UN.
UNRWA consistently returned weapons to Hamas -  “ the authorities in charge” - so often , that even Ban Ki Moon got angry. When Hamas’s manipulations emerged after the fact they were for the most part ignored

When Israel assassinated Hamas leaders, they graciously agreed to negotiate, knowing that Israel would agree. Like Yasser Arafat at Camp David, everything they asked for was considered. Fishing zones were extended, border crossings were opened. Across the globe, countries worked to cement the ‘deal’ to get Hamas an airport and seaport that are suitable. Israel allowed the UN and even Abbas to be its proxy to check goods imported via air sea and land outside of Israel for ‘dual purpose materials and bombs.’  In exchange Abbas assured Hamas’s agreement to stop attacks.

Hamas, now politically legitimate, declared victory. People call Mashal a deranged man. I think not.  Not two days after the agreement in Cairo, he declared victory, demanded world responsibility to rebuild Gaza, reiterated his demands for an airport, a seaport, an end to the siege, and the release of prisoners.

Less than a week ago, when Israel compared Hamas to ISIS, he was insulted and told the world that Hamas is  a liberation movement -- not genocidal terrorists.  He also made no secret of  his genocidal goals. On Palestinian TV he said  Hamas’s victory is a success bringing Hamas closer to its real goals -- conquest of all of Israel and eradicating Israel.  Hamas promises to re-arm, and if the future is any predictor of the past, with the help of Qatar, the next round will be worse than the last one.

At the same time, Abbas is terrorizing Israel via threats to go to the UN with an “unconventional proposal” to the UN that includes a timetable for Israel’s withdrawal from the west bank to pre-67 borders and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the west bank with Jerusalem as its capital.   If the request is turned down, (i.e. via US veto) the PLO will charge Israeli leaders with war crimes in the International Criminal Court.  He believes the time is right. Israel caved in to the US and dropped its demand on demilitarization of Hamas. Afraid of losing allies, Israel is vulnerable to pressure.

Abbas’s “unconventional” diplomatic surprise, published in world news as an alleged attempt to make the US unhappy is nothing of the kind. The Obama-Netanyahu i.e. Israel-American relation in tatters and the fear of losing US support emboldens him. He says he will present his plan to the US. In all likelihood, he has already. Knowing the west will be more supportive than his fellow Muslims, he will use this pressure to
get Israel to fall in line. While his words don’t, his undertone threatens when he says he hopes Arab countries will support his “unconventional solution”.

Palestinians understands that international diplomacy is about power -- Israel does not. As a result we miss opportunities all the time. We have rewarded our enemies when they take advantage of us, and we taught them how to do it. Books have been written on the reasons for Israel’s puzzling foreign policy (or lack of it) -- Israel is suffering from PTSD, a  battered child mentality, the stockholm syndrome, obsessive approval seeking, the assumption that it needs a patron.

Enough therapy. Israel is facing and will continue to face an increasingly serious existential crisis if it continues to let its enemies define the playing field.

Soon -  part II - Diplomatic chess: Israel’s next moves

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