Thursday, July 31, 2014

Arab Leaders Give Hamas Silent Treatment

While Israel is being chastised by many in the international community for their defensive war against Hamas terrorists, there is an unusual deafening silence emanating from the Arab world.  This silence can be construed as a major defeat for Hamas in particular and for Turkey and Qatar in general.

In years past, every time Hamas had attacked Israel, the Arab world had always publicly backed Hamas and denounced Israel.  Fast forward to 2014…Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt have given tacit support to Israel’s military campaign against Hamas.  Unfortunately, Turkey’s current Islamist government led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo─čan and the Qatari’s still support Hamas in their terrorist activities.

This tacit approval given to Israel by Arab countries has to be on the minds of the Hezbollah terrorist leadership as well.  In 2006, much of the Arab world considered Hezbollah a legitimate resistance movement, but things have changed dramatically over the last 8 years.  Iran’s support of Hezbollah and Hezbollah’s military support of Syrian President Assad has created a backlash from the Arab world.  It has been reported that Hezbollah had considered joining the fight against Israel in an effort to take some of the heat off of Hamas, but I think that is unlikely at this point.

In past conflicts between Israel and Hamas, Arab leaders would always pressure the American president to persuade Israel to stop their military activities.  Today, we have an American president and Secretary of State demanding that Israel halt their military advance, while Arab leaders stay silent on the sidelines.  In an odd twist, Egyptian President Sisi has become more of an ally to Israel than Barack Obama has been. 

Israel’s Channel 1 has published an alleged leaked phone transcript between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama.  In the transcript, Obama is demanding that Bibi unilaterally halt all military activities in the Gaza Strip.  Both the US and Israeli governments deny the authenticity of the leaked transcript, but both governments have their reasons for denying such an exchange.  Channel 1 stands by their story and says their award winning journalist received the leak from a senior American government official. 

The following is an English translation of the Hebrew account of the talk given in the report:

Barack Obama: I demand that Israel agrees to an immediate, unilateral ceasefire and halt all offensive activities, in particular airstrikes.

Benjamin Netanyahu: And what will Israel receive in exchange for a ceasefire?

BO: I believe that Hamas will cease its rocket fire — silence will be met with silence.

BN: Hamas broke all five previous ceasefires. It’s a terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel.

BO: I repeat and expect Israel to stop all its military activities unilaterally. The pictures of destruction in Gaza distance the world from Israel’s position.

BN: Kerry’s proposal was completely unrealistic and gives Hamas military and diplomatic advantages.

BO: Within a week of the end of Israel’s military activities, Qatar and Turkey will begin negotiations with Hamas based on the 2012 understandings, including Israel’s commitment to removing the siege restrictions on Gaza.

BN: Qatar and Turkey are the biggest supporters of Hamas. It’s impossible to rely on them to be fair mediators.

BO: I trust Qatar and Turkey. Israel is not in the position that it can choose its mediators.

BN: I protest because Hamas can continue to launch rockets and use tunnels for terror attacks –

BO: (interrupting Netanyahu) The ball’s in Israel’s court, and it must end all its military activities.     

Many leaders in the Arab world see Hamas as a destructive force in an already hostile region and their tacit support for Israel’s military campaign is a victory.  It may be a quiet victory, but it’s a victory nonetheless.  Do I think the Muslim sheiks and kings of the Middle East will join hands with the Israelis and sing Kumbaya?  Absolutely not, but the behind the scenes support of Arab leaders can change the equation on any future conflicts between Israel and Hamas or even Israel and Hezbollah.  If we can just get Barack Obama and John Kerry on board, then Hamas might realize the folly of their continued missile attacks on Israeli citizens.                

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