Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Cease Fire-Israel Hamas

We appear to have a cease fire. As I noted in posts below, at first appearance this agreement makes little sense from an Israeli perspective. Until you consider the following factors.

1) As I thought, the key reason for Netanyahu's acceptance of a cease fire was the pressure that the US placed on him to acquiesce to the Egyptian peace plan. Netanyahu knows he has to deal with a second term Obama and that he will need US co-operation on Iran going forwards. He evidently decided that he could not afford to alienate the President.

2) The Egyptian Government of President Morsi committed to the US and to Israel that he would prevent Hamas smuggling into Gaza from Egyptian soil. At least at the present level. Israel wants a positive relationship with Egypt and is evidently willing to bend in order to achieve this. Israel wants to see if Morsi can live up to his word. And as Netanyahu put it when announcing the cease fire, Israel has the power to use greater force against Hamas if it becomes necessary.

3) President Obama has committed to Netanyahu that he will increase US support for counter-Iran action vis-a-vis Iranian support for Palestinian militant groups. This is crucial for the Israelis. Linking to point 1, Netanyahu has obviously decided that the Gaza question is peripheral to the Iran question.

In conclusion, while by agreeing to the Egyptian accords Israel has granted Hamas an unprecedented propaganda victory, Israel also appears to have gained significant concessions from the US with regards to other Israeli national security concerns. In essence, the Gaza cease fire has its roots in concerns far broader than Israeli threat perceptions re-Hamas. As I noted a couple of weeks ago (see my latest daily caller piece), policy decisions in the Middle East are currently being made with reference to regional rather than local dynamics.

Earlier pieces - 
Israel Cease Fire
Israel-Hamas - what the bus bombing means
What Israel expects from a cease fire
Israel-Hamas conflict continues 
Israel-Hamas conflict begins

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