Avi Issacharoff of the Times of Israel argues that Hamas was “cornered” by the ceasefire that Egypt proposed and Israel accepted Monday.
“If they accept the Egyptian proposal, they will be perceived as having been heavily defeated in the latest round,” he writes. Yet “if it rejects the Egyptian proposal it will find itself unprecedentedly isolated…Jerusalem will have the legitimacy to mount a ground offensive into Gaza.” (Hamas rejected the deal.)
Hamas is not alone: the Obama administration cornered itself, too. By making the unprecedented offer to broker a ceasefire, President Barack Obama not only undercut Israel’s operation, blunted its moral case for war, and legitimized Hamas, but he also set himself up for yet another diplomatic failure.
It was clear that Hamas would not accept a ceasefire: Hamas said so itself. It seems to think this war will just end like the previous ones.
By pushing for a ceasefire, then, the Obama administration betrayed Israel without any prospect of gain.
That had the ironic effect of freeing Israel from U.S. pressure: since it has lacked the Obama administration’s support from the start, there is no reason to worry about losing it.
On Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry played catch-up, condemning Hamas’s rejection of the ceasefire. Israel no longer needs that confirmation, however.
It would have been a neat diplomatic trick for the U.S. and Israel to coordinate the ceasefire proposals so as to set Israel up where it is today: with the moral high ground on the eve of a likely ground operation. That gives too much credit to the Obama administration, which was sending Kerry to Egypt to crash the ceasefire photo-op until the last moment.
Thanks to a sentimental, misguided gesture, Obama has less influence than ever.