Commentary Magazine


The Gaza War Has Changed the Way the World Talks About Hamas

Amid all the metrics commentators propose to determine “who won” Operation Protective Edge, one is staring everyone in the face: the international community’s attitude toward a postwar (if and when the war is over) Gaza. And on that score, Israel seems to have won a convincing victory. The Gaza war has changed the way the world is talking about Hamas and the Gaza Strip–and, despite all their tut-tutting at Jerusalem, they sound quite a bit like Benjamin Netanyahu.

I wrote last week of the Netanyahu government’s informal proposal for a sort of “economic peace” for Gaza in return for its demilitarization. Despite its record of success, economic peace has never really been embraced by the international community–and when Netanyahu proposes it, it’s usually met with anger and derision. But not this time. This time Hamas seems to have overplayed its hand.

It’s possible that this is Hamas being a victim of its own morbid “success” with regard to the propaganda war. That is, maybe the international community is so torn up by the violence in Gaza that they want more than ever to prevent its recurrence. And no matter how often they try to blame Israel, they seem to understand that there’s only one way to prevent future bloodshed: demilitarize, at least to a significant degree, the Gaza Strip.

Take, for example, the Obama administration. While President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and their staffers and advisors have been intent on criticizing Israel in public and in harsh terms, the president’s loyal defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, reportedly spoke as though he took the need to disarm Hamas for granted last week. And it’s even more significant to hear of European leaders joining that bandwagon. As Foreign Policy reported last night:

Major European powers have outlined a detailed plan for a European-backed U.N. mission to monitor the lifting of an Israeli and Egyptian blockade of the Gaza Strip and the dismantling of Hamas’s military tunnel network and rocket arsenals, according to a copy of the plan obtained by Foreign Policy.

The European initiative aims to reinforce wide-ranging cease-fire talks underway in Cairo. The Europeans are hoping to take advantage of this week’s 72-hour humanitarian cease-fire to cobble a more durable plan addressing underlying issues that could reignite violence between Israel and the Palestinians.

It remains unclear whether the European plan has the support of Hamas, Israel, or the United States. It does, however, include several elements the Obama administration believes are essential, including the need to ease Gazans’ plight, strengthen the role of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and ensure the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip.

The plan — described in a so-called non-paper titled “Gaza: Supporting a Sustainable Ceasefire” — envisions the creation of a U.N.-mandated “monitoring and verification” mission, possibly drawing peacekeepers from the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), which has monitored a series of Israeli-Arab truces in the region since the late 1940s. The mission “should cover military and security aspects, such as the dismantling of tunnels between Gaza and Israel, and the lifting of restrictions on movement and access,” according to the document. “It could have a role in monitoring imports of construction and dual use materials allowed in the Gaza Strip, and the re-introduction of the Palestinian Authority.”

The plan’s existence is in many ways more important than its details, for it shows Europe to be embracing Netanyahu’s idea for an economic peace for Gaza. Removing the import and export restrictions (or most of them) in return for real demilitarization would be an obvious win for everyone–except Hamas. In fact, it would give a major boost to the peace process overall, because it would discredit armed “resistance” as an effective method to win Palestinians their autonomy.

It would be quite a turnaround if Gaza somehow became the prime example of peaceful state building with the international community’s help. It’s also not an easy task, to say the least. But the fact that even Europe is on board, and expects to get the UN to agree to such a plan, shows that the principle of disarming Hamas and demilitarizing the Gaza Strip has gone mainstream.

Whether it happens is another question, of course, and no one should get their hopes up, especially while Hamas is breaking even temporary ceasefires. Additionally, the UN’s record in policing such zones of conflict, especially in the Middle East, is not cause for optimism. But talk of Hamas “winning” this war is made all the more ridiculous when the topic of conversation in the capitals of the Middle East and throughout the West is how to permanently disarm Hamas and dismantle any infrastructure they can use against Israel.

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9 Responses to “The Gaza War Has Changed the Way the World Talks About Hamas”

  1. JACK LEVEY says:

    Would that be the same UN that refused to enforce access to the Suez Canal for ships to and from Israel?

    The UN that withdrew its peace keepers from the Sinai in 1967 at Egypt’s demand?

    The UN whose forces in Lebanon blocked Israel’s attempt to rescue kidnapped soldiers, failed to block terrorist attacks on Israel, and obstructs Israel’s attempts to respond to attack? Who allowed Lebanese terrorist to rearm, falsely accused Israel of targetting UN forces, and then came pleading to Israel for help when the terrorists attacked them?

    The UN whose schools in the disputed territories go beyond anti-Zionism to teach out-and-out Jew-hating?

    The UN that let Hamas divert millions of dollars of cement and rebar to constructing terror tunnels, after promising Israel to make sure that the supplies would be used only for rebuilding civilian infrastructure?

    The UN who falsely accused Israel of targetting UN schools, and who blamed Israel for deaths caused by Hamas shells and rockets? Who blatanly publishes false statistics about Gazans killed in the recent conflict, and who blasted Israel in the trumped up Goldstone Report after the last one? (I think I’ve read about those events at Contentions, as recently as today.)

    Who let Hamas build tunnels under UN schools and clinics (one of them with 12 barrels embedded in the walls, each barrel containing 170 lbs of high explosives — well, the UN guys must have been out for coffee), and handed rockets over to Hamas after finding them stored in UN schools?

    The UN that routinely condemns Israel as a human rights violator, while finding nothing wrong with such bastions of freedom as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, and Sudan? Who allowed genocide to occur under the noses of its troops in Rwanda? Whose envoy endorsed the fraudulent claims of a massacre in Jenin?

    The UN whose court ruled that Israel had no right to build a fence to keep terrorists out because the terrorists were not a sovereign nation and accordingly Israel had no right of self defense against them?

    Am I the only one who thinks this might not be the best idea? Why would Israel agree to such an agreement, and how could it possibly rely on the UN to monitor Hamas instead of aiding and abetting them?

    Bist du ganzen meshuga?!!!!

    • ALLAN GRANT says:

      What more can be said after Mr. Levey’ perfect response?

      • ROBERT FIPPINGER says:

        Well here is one reply:

        To the web admins please take down the advert for “Best Cure For Nail Fungus”. The picture is disgusting.

        /back to your regularly scheduled thread


      He is not nuts. The unreliability, indeed the malice which the UN bears Israel is common knowledge and is obviously known to Mandel.

      But the point is a chance for Israel to show itself in support of a UN initiative, moreover, one that acknowledges the need for a demilitarized Gaza. Even if the current European and UN talk in that regard goes nowhere, which is likely, it would be good for Israel to have stood up in support of the idea and of the UN. It would counter the corrosive image of Israel as a renegade, embittered and eternally hostile to the world community.


    JACK lEVEY ASKS …”Bist du ganzen meshuga?!!!!????
    The anwer is a full throated YES..your thesis is charming, your grammar exquisiteyour contentions are tempting but meshugah? Yes! I’m going with Levey…

  3. EMILE TUBIANA says:

    The idea is brilliant and would attract a lot of business. Palestinians would only stand to profit from that and enhance their lives, but I’m not sure that this perspective is strong enough to counterbalance Hamas’ influence.


    By all means absolutely keep the UN out of this . There has been v good reporting ( WSJ )this week as to how UNRWA serves as a cash cow to Hamas : 30,000 on the payroll all but 300 of which are so called ” palestinians ” . In general,the world needs to figure out a way to have less UN / less Kofi Annans and Ban Ki Moons , but there is certainly no place for the UN in a peace deal

  5. SHIRLEY LEWIS says:

    To: Mr. Jack Levy

    Thank you for setting Mr.Mandel straight.

    Both the Obama Administration and Europe are just conjuring another way to destroy Israel since Hamas seems unable to do so. It wants to elevate the Hamas-ideological-identical Palestinian Authority/Abbas. (See Palestinian Media Watch if anyone thinks PA/Abbas is “moderate”, “against violence” and “a peace partner”.) US and EU just want to figure out another way to get building materials into Gaza so one way or another Hamas, under blind UN eyes, can construct its tunnels again, wants borders open so Hamas can import weapons again.

    If the US and EU was serious about economic growth in Gaza it would demand the unconditional surrender of Hamas + Islamic Jihad to Israel. It would also demand the Hamas leadership, safely ensconced in Qatar be turned over to Israel to face justice.

    If US and EU were serious about peace it would demand that PA/PLO/Fatah/Abbas & Co. abandon jihadism for ecumenism and prove so in both word and deed – and would cut off all financial and political support until demand was met. Again, if anyone reading this does not know what Team PA/Abbas really is, vs what it pretends to be, what US and EU allows it to pretend to be, see Palestinian Media Watch.

    If EU and EU were serious about peace it would recognize what the UN has been for a very long time, handmaiden to terrorist Hamas, and realize there can be no role for UN in Gaza – even if Hamas surrenders. UN Gaza personnel are all corrupt terror enablers and need to be dismissed.

  6. PETER YOGMAN says:

    Any chance Israelis could be embedded in such an international force? Nah, just kidding. But anything less is doomed to failure.

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