Kerry Fails in Ceasefire Negotiations between Israel and Hamas
William Raymond Collier Jr- In order to come up with a cease-fire agreement between Hamas and Israel, US Secretary of State John Kerry first made a stop in Paris on the 25th of July.
During this stop, he met with Catherine Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, as well as foreign ministers from Italy, the UK, Germany, and France. Present at this meeting were representatives from Qatar and Turkey, whose support for Hamas has upset many Arab nations and the Palestinian Authority.
Left out of this meeting? Egypt, the Palestinian Authority Israel, or any backers of Israel.
Increasingly, Egyptian and Israeli officials are accusing the US of taking sides with Hamas, led largely by Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. In the past, President Obama described Erdogan as one of his “closest friends.” Erdogan recently stated that the Israelis’ actions in Gaza “far outweighed” what Hitler did to the Jews.
Erdogan is in the process of setting up a presidential dictatorship, has been accused of sending arms to the ultra-Salafist group known as either ISIS or ISIL, and has even been making threatening moves against fellow NATO member, Greece.
In recent months, however, President Obama has not had much communication with Erdogan whom, in all fairness to President Obama, may no longer be held in the same esteem by the President.
This US coziness with Turkey, Hamas, and Qatar who are fast becoming pariahs in the greater Muslim world for their support of terrorist organizations, is making Israel, Egypt, and the Palestinian Authority nervous.
The Palestinian Authority is the sole legitimate ruler of Palestinian territories and was booted from Gaza by a localized military coup backed, it is now believed, with Iranian and Turkish money.
After his Paris meeting, evidently, Secretary Kerry took up what were essentially Hamas demands as a condition for a cease-fire and, through his personal presence, as well a “frank discussion” President Obama had with the Israeli Prime Minister, strongly pressured the Israelis to accept the deal. But since one of the conditions involves Egypt opening up its Gaza border to Hamas, it would require pressuring Egypt as well.
Egypt, the PA, and Israel have a version of a cease-fire they have agreed to, but Secretary Kerry, according to the Egyptians, “is digging a tunnel under Egyptian diplomacy.”
The Egyptian-PA-Israeli approach is to end hostilities, leave all forces in situ, allow the closing of Hamas tunnels to continue, and open a two week negotiation in Egypt brokered by Egypt and participated in by the PA, Hamas, and Israel. The Kerry-Hamas proposal allows Hamas to attack Israeli soldiers in Gaza, calls for opening the Egyptian border with Hamas, and calls for massive aid supplies to Hamas, along with Israel ending its anti-tunnel operations. It does not include a provision for Egyptian or PA involvement.
The Egyptian Government is still smarting over the US Government’s backing of the radical Salafist group, Muslim Brotherhood, which Hamas supports. The Muslim Brotherhood’s ouster from power by a dramatic popular uprising that included almost half the population hitting the streets, was condemned by the Obama Administration, even as it continues to support the radical Salafist group today, according to Egyptian sources.
By discarding the Egyptian led effort in favor of Qatar and Turkey, Secretary Kerry has won the ire of US allies in the region who are openly questioning which side the US is on, the moderate and peaceful Muslim nations, or radical Salafists groups, and those nation, Qatar and Turkey, which now back them?
Others argue that Kerry’s diplomacy with Qatar and Turkey stems from the fact they represent Hamas’ interests and that any notion that the US is taking sides is absurd. Kerry’s staff also accused the Israelis of leaking a cease-fire proposal before it was finalized. The Israelis have denied the charge by Kerry.
Qatar has earned ire from its neighbors for how it allegedly welcomed the 5 released Taliban terrorists released by the US as heroes, for the editorial content of Al Jazeera, which leans towards the Salafists, and for accusing the UAE of secretly working with Israel. Increasingly, many Arab Nations are becoming estranged from Qatar, including Saudi Arabia.
The net effect among regional powers, whether fair or not, is that US standing as an “honest broker” is being diminished because regional powers feel snubbed and are concerned that the US may be more favorable towards the enemies of her allies than they are towards their allies. This can be a complete falsehood but unless it is addressed head-on it could lead to a degrading of US influence in the region.
With talk now that Hamas may indeed agree to the Egyptian brokered plan, which in effect freezes out the US from the process, Secretary Kerry, Turkey, and Qatar are essentially “bit players” in the drama. Meanwhile Israeli forces have been ordered only to fire if fired upon.