On Nov. 22 Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak rejected the idea that leaders are bound to follow popular Israeli opposition to a cease-fire with Hamas.
Said Barak: "We don't have to listen to the public on these issues -- the leadership must make the decisions."
Barak believes Israel is the one that has made gains through the last week of military engagement, and therefore he does not rule out the possibility that the cease-fire could be "relatively long." Said Barak: "Hamas did not truly achieve anything -- Israel has control of all the understandings with them."
He said that when Hamas celebrates this cease-fire as a victory against Israel, they are not celebrating something that really happened. He even went so far as to say they are not celebrating events that really happened. Rather, they "are celebrating imaginary events that did not really occur, such as shooting down an Israeli F-16 and rockets falling in Tel Aviv and causing damage."
Barak's words were in line with those of Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who has admitted Hamas will have to be overthrown -- just not right now. He too said the pressure of Israeli popular opinion does not matter.
What Barak and Liberman are missing is that their unwillingness to finish the job now is allowing Hamas to win a very real war -- the PR war. And whether Hamas shot down an F-16 or not, whether they did damage in Tel Aviv or not, they fired on Israel repeatedly and often during the last week and in the end, Israeli leadership backed down.