Here’s the timeline:
Immediately before and at the time that the ceasefire was announced, Israelis were talking about a United Nations Security Council Resolution being issued this week, with the help of the United States, that would include a call for the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip.
It was a logical extension of the 15 August Council of the European Union statement that “All terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm”.
The idea is to make it absolutely clear that disarmament is a requirement for the Gaza Strip – not some kind of Palestinian concession to be made sometime in the future as part of a package that includes the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state.
Unfortunately, already the morning after the ceasefire was announced there were news reports that the United Nations Security Council Resolution was indefinitely postponed by Washington.
And then on Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu termed demilitarization as being a “long run goal”.
[As the famous economist, Keynes, quipped, “In the long run we are all dead”.]
Let’s put this in context.
#1. Hamas claims it has the right to continue building and holding rockets and that it has the “right to resistance” to shoot them.
#2. Hamas also takes the position that all of its targets are military targets.
#3. Most of the international verbiage against attacks relates only to condemning attacks against civilians.
#4. Almost all the missiles being shot are produced inside the Gaza Strip rather than smuggled in.
A UNSC Resolution that “All missiles and rockets in Gaza must be removed or destroyed” could have been an important move in the right direction.
Relegating demilitarization to the status of “long run goal” may leave us with a “dual use goods” import inspection and monitoring system “cat and mouse” game with the bizarre situation that any material Hamas manages to get through the system can be openly used to manufacture missiles since the ceasefire does not prohibit missile manufacturing activities!!!
It is not too late.
And PM Netanyahu has another argument he can give when he lobbies with world leaders for the UNSC Resolution: his plummeted ratings in Israel by a public that, according to the polls, wants to take a radically stronger and more aggressive approach than he wants to. The public opposed the ceasefire.
Mr. Netanyahu can argue that he needs the UNSC Resolution to help avoid a situation in the coming months that at the first violation of the ceasefire – even by a Palestinian splinter group – the Israeli street will leave him no choice but to launch a war to crush Hamas. Mr. Netanyahu can even mention how he found himself already promising a harsh response to even the slightest attack.
As the saying goes, his weakness can be his great strength.
Again – it is not too late.
Here’s the timeline: