Sunday, January 18, 2009

Israel declares "ceasefire" whilst continuing with acts of war.

Less than two days before Barack Obama is inaugurated as president, Israel have declared a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza, one which they have not negotiated with Hamas or the Egyptians, making this an Israeli decision to halt it's attack rather than a genuine ceasefire. Ceasefires have terms and Israel hasn't discussed terms with anyone.

Israel called a halt to its bombardment of Gaza last night after winning American and European pledges of support to shut down the Hamas weapons supply pipeline.

The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, in effect declared Hamas was broken, saying that its power is diminishing. "The conditions have been created that our aims, as declared, were attained fully, and beyond," he said in a televised address. "The campaign has proven Israel's power and strengthened its deterrence."

If that reads like an election statement it's because it certainly is one. There is surely no-one with half a brain who believes that Hamas has been "broken" by this most recent Israeli offensive, and Olmert's attempt to paint it as such only highlights the degree to which this conflict was waged in order that Livni could hopefully outflank Netanyahu in the forthcoming Israeli elections.

And, of course, Hamas have made it very clear that they do not accept a ceasefire on Israel's terms:

But Hamas said it would keep fighting for as long as Israeli troops remained in Gaza. "A unilateral ceasefire does not mean ending the aggression and ending the siege," a spokesman said. "These constitute acts of war, so this will not mean an end to resistance."

In 1967 Israel launched a preemptive strike against the Egyptians, justified - the Israelis argued - because Egypt had committed an act of war by closing the Straits of Tiran. It became established under international law after this that blockades represented an act of war.

I have been bemused during this recent conflict to hear Israeli politicians claim that they maintained the ceasefire - and Hamas did not - whilst Israel, at all times during this ceasefire, continued her blockade of Gaza.

A blockade is an act of war and it is therefore ludicrous for the Israelis to be arguing that they were maintaining the ceasefire whilst participating in what everyone agrees is an act of war.

Hamas refused to agree to a new ceasefire with the Israelis precisely because the Israelis were refusing to end the blockade.

One of the reasons that the Israelis have declared this ceasefire unilaterally is because they know that Hamas will not agree to a ceasefire which allows the blockade to continue.

Israel hopes to continue it's blockade of Gaza, a blockade which has resulted in Palestinians scavenging in rubbish dumps for food.

So, whilst Olmert's announcement of a stop to Israeli aggression is to be welcomed, it is ultimately useless unless Israel also agree to end the blockade which has brought Gaza to it's knees.

You cannot announce a ceasefire whilst continuing with actions which represent an act of war. The two things are contradictory.

If the blockade of 1967 represented an act of war, then the Israeli blockade of Gaza also represents one. The international community must force Israel to end the blockade.

When Hamas rockets continue to fall, Israel will claim that Hamas have "broken" the ceasefire. But the ceasefire will be an illusion as long as Israel continues her blockade of Gaza. All Israel is offering is an end to her attacks on Gaza, she is not offering to end all acts of war.

One must never forget that this was always about the blockade, that was the very reason why Hamas refused to renew the ceasefire. And it remains as pertinent now as it did on day one of this dispute, and as unresolved.

Israel may be talking peace, but her actions continue to be acts of war.

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2 comments:

The Intellectual Redneck said...

Israel unilaterally declared a ceasefire yesterday. Of course it quickly vanished when Hamas fired five rockets into Israel. Hamas does not want to cease fire unless it is on their therms. They are concerned about looking defeated in the eyes of the Arab world. In truth, they have been defeated from a military standpoint. The vanishing Israeli cease fire

Kel said...

Israel unilaterally declared a ceasefire yesterday. Of course it quickly vanished when Hamas fired five rockets into Israel. Hamas does not want to cease fire unless it is on their therms.

As you will surely know from what I have written, I am not remotely surprised that Hamas rockets continue to fall on to Israel, are you?

Hamas want what they have always wanted, which is an end to the siege which is starving the Palestinians. That was the reason that the last ceasefire expired and was not renewed.

Israel have responded by battering the Palestinians, killing children, and now present a ceasefire which demands that the siege continues... the very thing Hamas refused to accept before.

Israel wants to starve the Palestinians and for Hamas to agree not to attack them as they do so. That's simply never going to happen.

Israel must end the siege.