Gaza Ceasefire Doesn’t Solve the Fundamental Problem

The U.S. must make sure that the peace deal is durable.

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But Israel was not an “occupying power” in Gaza. The resolution blithely skipped over the fact of its withdrawal four years earlier. It ignored the indisputable fact that Hamas is committed not just to fight Israeli soldiers, but to fight a genocidal religious war, simple and evil. And that Hamas had by then already launched 7,000 rockets—7,000, every one intended to kill as many Jews as possible. Judge Goldstone later retracted his shameful report but the damage was done.

On this score, Hamas could count the first Gaza war as something of a propaganda success—one it plainly believes it can repeat. It has received support from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a one-time moderate who had aspired to membership in the liberal West. He is now plainly seeking to lead the Islamic world, and in doing so justifies all those in Europe who thought Turkey insufficiently respectful of human rights to be accorded membership. Erdogan's regime is ideological and authoritarian: it is not China, or Iran, which jails the greatest number of its reporters and commentators, but Erdogan's Turkey. This is the man who now has the nerve to call Israel a "terrorist" state.

Again, Hamas deliberately places its fighters and their weaponry among civilians so that every woman and child caught in the fighting can be presented to the world as a pitiable victim of Israeli aggression. Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari, who has tormented Israel for a decade, devised this cunning but cowardly tactic of using civilians as human shields.

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He was killed in a precision air strike at the beginning of this war. All told Hamas has launched 12,000 rocket and mortar attacks on Israel, and now with Iranian equipment, money, and training, it has longer range missiles which can threaten Tel Aviv. But for Israeli ingenuity and the invention (with U.S. assistance) of the antimissile Iron Dome system it's likely that Hamas-Iran would now have killed scores it not hundreds of Israelis. Israel's recently concluded "Pillars of Defense" air attacks were aimed at taking out the rocket sites, especially the new longer-range Fajr-5 missiles, which had come from Iran. The residential surroundings from which Hamas launches its attacks are clear on videos showing these launches. Meanwhile Hamas’s strategic leader, Khaled Meshaal, sits safely in Doha, Qatar, having fled Jordan where he was accused of subversion, and then Damascus after it got too hot for him. He is a clever man with blood on his hands—his own people’s more than that of his Israeli enemies.

It is nauseating to think of such a person having any influence on negotiations being brokered by new Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, who like Meshaal is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, whom Hamas sees as an ally. For Morsi, though, it is a chance to show that he puts Egyptian interests first ahead of the Hamas fanatics who so betray the hopes of the larger Palestinian population for peace and prosperity. He has said he is determined to close down the myriad of tunnels from Sinai into Gaza by which money and armaments reach Hamas.

It is clearly in Egypt's interests to maintain the peace treaty with Israel and continue to receive the billions of dollars of U.S. aid.

This should surely be the last time Hamas can be allowed to play this game of provocations and propaganda. And surely this time Israel cannot yield to the clamor for a cease fire that leaves Hamas to do what it did after 2009—bringing in still more rockets and arms through the tunnels from Sinai to Gaza while the world again turns a blind eye. (How else but through global myopia could Iran, supposedly under strict sanctions, move the money around to accomplish its support for Hamas?) President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have inescapably defended Israel's right and duty to defend its citizens, but the United States must put all its muscle and money toward seeing that any peace deal is durable. It must see to the elimination of the long-range missiles, pledge Hamas to control all the militias it blames for attacks (when it suits), and it must be a peace enforceable by Egypt with guaranteed retribution for every violation.But it must also rethink the whole attitude to a peace settlement on the West Bank, a prospect now even further diminished by a weakening of the leadership of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad who spend time and energy politicking at the U.N. rather than taking up Israel's offer of talks. The United States cannot fail to recognize the force of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's argument that Israel cannot risk annihilation by simply withdrawing from the West Bank as it withdrew from Gaza, and he is proving correct in his warning that Iran daily advances toward nuclear missiles.

Corrected on 11/26/12:An earlier version of this article incorrectly spelled the name of the capital of Qatar. It is Doha.