Dealing with the Devil

Hamas childNews item:

A Hamas spokesman said Tuesday that his organization is committed to an Egyptian-mediated truce deal with Israel set to go into effect Thursday. Sami Abu Zuhri said Hamas will commit to the “zero hour” declared by Egypt…

The MENA agency report cited an unnamed high-level Egyptian official as saying that both sides “have agreed on the first phase” of an Egyptian package to end the violence in the coastal strip.

It said the first phase is a “mutual and simultaneous calm” in the Gaza Strip which will start 6 a.m. Thursday…

 Government spokesman Mark Regev would also not confirm or deny a deal. “What is important is not only words but deeds,” Regev said. “If there is a total absence of terror attacks from Gaza into Israel and if there is an end to arms buildup in Gaza Strip and movement on the hostage Gilad Schalit that will indeed be a new reality.”

This sounds like the “first phase” will include stopping the rocket fire into Israel in exchange for Israel stopping incursions and air activity in Gaza. It may also include opening crossings into Gaza, etc. It will be interesting to see if Hamas will commit to making other factions like Islamic Jihad behave.

Unfortunately it also appears that Schalit’s release is not included. No doubt Hamas will only agree to free him in connection with a huge prisoner release.

Does Israel have the means to verify that arms smuggling has stopped? Probably only partially, if at all. So Hamas will continue to arm, even if an agreement to stop will be part of a later phase. And there are plenty of other things to keep them busy, like training and building fortifications.

What does Israel get? As long as the cease-fire lasts, freedom from rocket and mortar attacks.

What does Hamas get? Time to rebuild, to arm, and to train. Probably more, not less, smuggling. And most importantly, the ability to claim that they are a responsible governing power and to move toward international respectability.

The day that Hamas gets international recognition will be a black day for Israel. The next step will be a takeover of the Palestinian Authority — after all, they won the last election and are far more popular than Fatah, as well as militarily stronger. Such a takeover will put the arms that have been given to Fatah in Hamas hands, and will be analogous to the recent putsch in Lebanon which gave de facto control of the government and army to Hezbollah.

If the IDF is forced to withdraw from most of the West Bank, perhaps in the context of a ‘peace’ agreement, then Israel will be faced with hostile and frankly genocidal Iranian proxy regimes on its northern, southern and eastern borders.

Earlier Tuesday, during a session of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi said that Israel was on a “collision course” with Hamas and that he adopted the stance of intelligence officials, who believed that a truce would be short and fragile.

“The IDF will respect a cease-fire but is also getting ready for a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip,” Ashkenazi added.

The real question is not if Israel will directly confront Hamas, but when. Anything that makes Hamas stronger or deters Israel — such as the improved military capability and increased respectability for Hamas that will result from a cease-fire — will make the inevitable confrontation more costly.

A cease-fire is a very bad idea whose time has apparently come.

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