Patterico's Pontifications


New Frontier for the Anti-Israel Cabal

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:17 pm

[guest post by JVW]

If you have been following the developments as the Israeli Defense Forces are poised to enter Rafah (or, as Joe Biden likes to call it, Haifa) the Palestinians are now trying desperately to salvage a ceasefire proposal, brokered by Egypt and Qatar seemingly without involving any input from Israel or the United States. This after a Hamas rocket attack killed four IDF troops yesterday. The deal would give Hamas six weeks to produce somewhere between 20 and 33 hostages — living we presume — who would be exchanged for a disproportionate number of imprisoned Hamas militants. Naturally during this six-week period Israel would be prohibited from attacking Hamas in Rafah during that time. An earlier Egyptian proposal supported by Hamas actually required the IDF to evacuate all of Gaza during this truce, which is an idea so ridiculous that a serious mediator would never have dared to suggest it, though an IDF evacuation has been proposed down the road.

Of course the anti-Israel media here and abroad are already trying to treat the revised Egyptian/Qatari proposal, which Hamas has allegedly accepted, as legitimate. Here is a wretched ABC News piece on the matter where the field reporter in Tel Aviv and a former CIA operative presumably from Washington both insist that Israel must accept this truce to placate the families of the hostages. The former CIA analyst at least recognizes that the deal as offered likely won’t be accepted by Israel, and he acknowledges that this is more of a public relations move by Hamas rather than a legitimate move towards peace, yet in the very next breath he suggests that Israel still must accept it because to do otherwise would be “cruel” to the families of the hostages. It’s small wonder that the CIA has followed failure after failure in the Middle East over the past 30 years, given the apparent mindlessness of its analysts.

CNN isn’t any better. They bring on one of their national security analysts, Beth Sanner, a former Deputy Director for Intelligence during the Trump Administration (replacing Dan Coates) who says that Israel is likely to sign on to the plan given that Israel allegedly agreed to a similar plan earlier. The CNN reporter in Gaza then repeats Ms. Sanner’s assertion that although the Israeli government has not yet agreed to the proposal, the terms had been built around concepts that Israel has allegedly agreed to over the past couple of weeks. These include the six-week truce to facilitate the hostage release, the return of Palestinians to the northern part of the Gaza Strip, and a broader framework beyond six-weeks which would see the remaining hostages and Israel soldiers being swapped for Hamas prisoners. These remarks were given four hours ago, yet ever since then the reports from the Israeli Cabinet are that the terms are unacceptable. This no doubt really bums out the good people at CNN. The reporter acknowledges that Hamas’s last-minute decision to accept the terms proposed by Egypt and Qatari came shortly after Israel dropped flyers throughout Rafah calling upon Palestinians to evacuate the area before hostilities begin, but he apparently never stopped to wonder if this move by Hamas isn’t a giant bluff, hoping to buy more time in which to test Israeli resolve.

NBC is slightly better, pointing out that the comprehensive details of the truce are still unknown, and that current speculation is merely based upon the drafts that were being discussed last week. This lends credence to Israel’s immediate announcement that the Egypt/Qatar proposal needed a great deal more work before Israel would sign on. NBC says that the specific number of Israeli hostages to be released by Hamas is 33, which differs greatly from other reports that the proposal is a general range falling between 20 and 33. One interesting detail in the NBC report that I had not heard elsewhere is that only 93 of the 130 remaining hostages are believed to be alive at this point. NBC also informs us that Israel officials characterize this latest proposal as a ruse, designed to further turn public opinion against Israel.

Meanwhile, CBS tells us that the Israeli Cabinet — recall that this is a unity war cabinet made up of the major parties in the Knesset — has approved the IDF’s incursion into Rafah while Israeli officials attempt to learn more about the ceasefire plan. Their reporter confirms the 33 hostage release requirement and adds the detail that Israel would release 40 prisoners for every soldier released and 20 prisoners for every civilian released, meaning that some 600-1200 Palestinians (many if not most of whom are Hamas) would be headed back to Gaza. This would take place over the next six weeks. Israeli soldiers would also withdraw from “densely populated areas” and Israel would increase humanitarian aid. Upon the successful completion of that six-week plan, there would be an additional six-week ceasefire which would see the return of all remaining hostages in return for additional paroles for Hamas fighters, and also includes a complete withdrawal of IDF troops from the Gaza Strip. If that is successful then dead hostages and combatants on both sides would be exchanged, and both sides would enter into a five-year agreement for the rebuilding of Gaza. He then repeats the talking point that hostage families are excited about the deal, suggesting that there is no way that mean ol’ Netanyahu can reject it. The CBS anchor has the good sense to ask if it is really very likely that Israel could accept an agreement whereby their forces leave the Gaza Strip, and the reporter is forced to admit that may be a step too far for even the unity government.

One question is where the Biden Administration stands on all of this, and how much input they have had. This proposal was very clearly declared to be an Egyptian and Qatari proposal, with no mention of U.S. involvement in its drafting, even if it was supposedly based at least in part upon ideas that both the U.S. and Israel had supported as recently as last week. Was the U.S. sandbagged by Egypt and Qatar getting Hamas to agree to a draft that the U.S. and Israel had not approved? Did the Biden Administration clandestinely agree to this proposal behind the scenes but did not want its fingerprints all over it in case Israel or Hamas ended up rejecting it? Is there some plausible combination of the two whereby the U.S. stumbled into half-heartedly blessing this agreement without really knowing the full details of it? Because the latter option seems to be the most likely scenario where this President and administration are concerned. One could easily envision our negotiators giving so many mixed signals and vacillating so much based upon domestic considerations that negotiators from the two Arab countries simply heard what they wanted to hear and ran with it.

For the record, the Biden Administration is claiming that the proposal caught them by surprise too, saying that, like Israel, they need more time to fully study all of the fine points, which might also be an indication that they need to see how this polls among likely U.S. voters before coming to a final determination. But I’m not sure I like the idea that we have let other nations back us and our allies into an agreement that we aren’t willing to immediately stand behind. It is Israel’s decision to make and not ours whether they trust all of the participants suitably enough to sign on to this truce, and I hope that if they decide against it that we are willing to hear them out in their reasoning. But the initial media reaction to it suggests that the pressure among the progressive elite is going to overwhelmingly be for Israel to trust the good faith and peaceful aspirations of the Palestinian people without first eradicating the malevolent influence of Hamas.


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