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January 9, 2009: Games and Risks

February 25, 2009

We suffered one additional loss yesterday: Staff – Sergeant Amit Robinson, 20, of Kibbutz Magal, was apparently killed by Palestinian sniper fire. during battle. With each loss we acknowledge the important sacrifice that has been made.

Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit


Today is Friday, and Shabbat still comes early. Thus, this posting must be brief, offering only basics; more will follow after Shabbat.


Late yesterday, the Security Council passed a resolution with regard to a cease-fire in Gaza. This is Resolution 9567. and was sponsored by the United Kingdom (Britain). The vote was 14-0 with the US abstaining — choosing this time not to veto.

Please understand this is NOT a binding resolution, but only a recommendation. It is a question of what chapter of the UN charter the resolution falls under, and I hope to have more details on this soon from my legal advisor on these matters.

Rice made a statement about how this will lead to a “durable” cease-fire. Don’t believe her.

The resolution was without teeth, and depends upon the details to be worked out via the Egyptian proposal.

After all of the statements regarding grave concern about the humanitarian situation and escalating violence, the need for “sustained and regular flow of goods and people through the Gaza crossings” (a nod to Hamas), and condemnation of all acts of violence against civilians, what it calls for, in brief, is:

“… an immediate, durable and fully respected cease-fire, leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.”

It calls on UN member states “to intensify efforts to provide arrangements and guarantees in Gaza in order to sustain a durable cease-fire and calm, including to prevent illicit trafficking in arms” and ensure the “sustained reopening” of border crossings. (Note the balanced response to demands here.)

It urges international efforts to provide humanitarian aid and rebuild Gaza’s economy.

And it welcomes the Egyptian initiative to arrange and implement a cease-fire as well as other regional and international efforts that are underway.


So, what is this?

It is simply words without substance: Cut out the fighting, guys, and figure out how to make peace work. Everything theoretically depends upon the strength of the Egyptian initiative, the details of which have not been revealed and very likely have not even been structured yet.

Israel should stop fighting but doesn’t have to withdraw until the details are in place and the cease-fire is seen to be “sustainable.” But this is not a tenable place for us. At some point we must either move ahead with attack or move out. We cannot keep troops in Gaza in static positions, waiting.


This what Gerald Steinberg, Chair of the Political Studies Dept. of Bar Ilan University, has to say about what’s happening:

“Every political leader and diplomat wants to be seen as the key actor, or at least a major player, in the cease-fire game. The appearance of peacemaking suggests international power and prestige, and is accompanied by meetings in exotic settings, providing excellent photo-opportunities and constant press coverage.

“Politicians thrive on the process, and politically correct talk about ending the ‘humanitarian suffering of Palestinians’ gains them a major boost.

“As a result, the field has become more crowded…

“But most of these mediators have little to offer in terms of substance. Indeed, the gap between the public relations and the detailed negotiations towards a sustainable end to conflict is huge. In many cases, beyond the photos and press statements, these virtual mediators do not have the knowledge or resources required for this complex process.

“This is the case for the cease-fire initiatives of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, both of whom gain primarily from the media attention. Israel is playing along with the facade in part to enhance the prestige of these leaders, and in part because the appearance of a readiness to negotiate a cease-fire softens the hostile media image, particularly in Europe.

“In reality, a stable cease-fire requires an external actor that has the depth, power and political will to insure that the terms are implemented – otherwise, the violence will resume and escalate.”



The Israeli delegation to Egypt, sent to discuss the plan, has returned and reported to the government leaders. Olmert, Livni and Barak have met in preliminary consultation, prior to a Security Cabinet meeting scheduled for later today.

The statement Livni made this morning was this:

“Israel’s past, present and future actions are based solely on its considerations, the security of Israel’s residents and its right to self-defense.”

In other words, we’ll do what we decide, not what the UN thinks we should do. Please G-d, she should mean it.


The decision of the Security Cabinet will be released too late for me to include it in this posting. But as things stand now, I believe there can be no question of our ceasing fire in Gaza now.

Hamas has already said it would not accept a cease-fire as proposed by Egypt. Its response to the UN resolution has been to launch a major attack on our south: There have been today, as I write, 25 rockets launched in a short period of time. Grads hit areas around Beersheba and Ashkelon, Kassams hit Sderot region, mortar shells struck in Eshkol.

Fighting inside of Gaza has also been heavy.


Other issues to be looked at after Shabbat: the UN (and particularly UNRWA) as a PR voice for Hamas, and the fact that PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s term has now expired, at least according to Hamas.





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