You are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and you are in a bit of a bind after 19 days of war in Gaza.
The Secretary of State of the US, your ally and financial supporter, is pushing a ceasefire proposal to end the conflict.
The problem is that you don’t really like the initiative. John Kerry did not just adopt the initial Egyptian plan for a initial halt to fighting as a prelude to a longer stoppage, but without any conditions for a political settlement. Instead, Kerry — who let slip that he does not like your far-from-pinpoint military operations — has acknowledged some of Hamas’s items for discussions, such as a revision of the Israeli blockade on Gaza.
What’s more, you haven’t achieved your real aim — far beyond the stated objectives of destroying tunnels from Gaza into Israel — of weakening Hamas, if not toppling it. Your killing of more than 1000 Gazans has not pushed the population away from the Gazan leadership; instead, it is driving them towards Hamas — even if they dislike its rule — as the resort from your attempt to bombard them into submission.
So what do you do?
You sabotage Kerry’s plan with a leak to one of Israel’s top diplomatic correspondent, Barak Ravid of Haaretz:
The draft proposal for a seven-day humanitarian ceasefire presented to Israel on Friday by Secretary of State John Kerry contained practically no mention of Israel’s security needs or of demilitarizing the Gaza Strip of rockets, according to the daily Haaretz, which obtained a copy of the one-page document headlined “Framework for Humanitarian Cease-fire in Gaza.”
The draft, presented to the Israeli Security Cabinet as it was meeting Friday evening, also forbade Israel from demolishing terror tunnels running from Gaza into Israeli territory during the ceasefire.
The draft described the urgent need of “protecting civilian lives, ending all hostilities in and from the Gaza Strip and achieving a sustainable cease-fire and enduring resolution of the crisis”.
A senior Israeli official told reporters over the weekend that Secretary of State John Kerry “was digging a tunnel under” Egypt’s proposed ceasefire with Hamas – which Israel has accepted and Hamas has rejected – a comment reflecting growing criticism of his handling of efforts to achieve a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
Israel is said to be angry specifically at the fact that Kerry was promoting a ceasefire proposal put forth by Qatar and Turkey, countries which openly favor Hamas. On Saturday, Palestinian sources told The Times of Israel that Kerry informed Hamas via Qatar last week that the US would guarantee the fulfillment of many of Hamas’s demands for an end to the war.
These guarantees reportedly include an easing of restrictions on the passage of goods and businessmen from Israel to Gaza; expansion of the permitted Gaza fishing zone to 12 miles off the coast; the opening of the Rafah crossing with Egypt, to be manned by Palestinian Authority officials; and a promise to ensure the transfer of salaries to Gaza’s government employees.
So you reject Kerry’s proposal for a one-week humanitarian pause in your attacks, allowing food and medicine into Gaza, even though your Israeli forces do not have to withdraw — but are forbidden from touching the “terror tunnels”.
But what about the impression that you are now not only the aggressor in the conflict, but the one prolonging it?
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejects the cease-fire draft presented by U.S. State Secretary John Kerry, saying in a series of interviews for American morning shows that the only offer on the table is the Egyptian one.
The Israeli prime minister says financial aid for Gaza’s residents must be contingent on dismantling the Strip from its arsenals of heavy weaponry and rockets. Funds given by the international community for civilian purposes was used for military ends, Netanyahu said….
In an interview for CNN, Prime Minister Netanyahu accuses Hamas of offering a cease-fire on the one hand, and continuing to fire rockets on the other….
Netanyahu told CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that Palestinians are using their civilians as “human shields” against Israel’s military campaign into Gaza. Netanyahu said Israel’s efforts to secure itself will not yield despite growing concern about deaths at the hands of Israel’s lethal force.
He also said that he realizes world opinion might be shifting away from his nation with every Palestinian civilian’s death, but added that the public relations battle cannot supersede Israel’s security.
And on Fox News Sunday: