Elihu D. Stone

A Hamas Ceasefire Offer – An “Offer” Best Refused.

Per a recent article in these ages –  Gazan businessmen claiming to convey messages on behalf of Hamas to Western diplomats have recently offered the possibility of a multi-year ceasefire in exchange for Israel’s lifting of the blockade.

Call me cynical, but I see a few problems right off the bat:

1)      From the  article there seem to be two disparate sets of terms proposed have been proposed by different people to different diplomats – so this seems more like a trial balloon designed to elicit an Israeli on-the-record response than anything else.

2)      Per one set of terms, “4) Hamas is interested in improved relations with the international community, and would like to discuss with it all issues related to stability and international peace.”  But anyone familiar with Hamas’ charter could never take this seriously. Hamas’ professed desire to involve the international community via Western diplomats in this effort and  the quoted statement in particular must be rejected as ultra vires given that Hamas has not (to my knowledge) ever annulled its Charter – Articles 13, 15 and 34 prima facie seem to preclude any substantial settlement with Israel –   especially one that involves international mediation. That’s besides the fact that Article 7 of the Charter calls for genocide of the Jews, in so many words. In short, Hamas’ own founding document expressly precludes/outlaws the particular activities now ascribed to the high-level Hamas officials.

That any respected journalist would report this uncritically as anything serious – without even mentioning these points seems credulous, at best. Now, this kind of reportage does have years of tradition behind it. After all, when the PLO proclaimed a “state” in November 1988, a state that implicitly covered all of Israel, thus making the proclamation a declaration of war, the act was reported in Israel and the West as a conciliatory and moderate statement. Still, one would think the serious journalists might have had learned something in the past 25 years, or so.

One last point:

3)      The term referenced by the article is ‘Tahadiyah’  – not a theological term (which Hamas as a theological group might feel bound by), but a modern concept Hamas has appealed to before in 2009 for those can remember. It means ‘calm’ or ‘lull’ – not really a ‘cease fire’.  Per Micha Halpern,   “The word implies a reduction, not a stoppage, of aggression. The concept of Tahadiyah implies that there is plenty of wiggle room. Tahadiyah is not quiet nor is it a commitment to enforce a quiet. Quite to the contrary a Tahadiyah actually allows for attacks and a gradual increase of pressure and a change in the status quo over time. It is a very ambiguous and amorphous term that translates into a very ambiguous and amorphous status on the ground.”

In short, this offer is an invitation to formalize what Israel has endured since 2005. Nothing substantive is being offered because whenever Hamas has used the word Tahadiyah in the past rockets have continued to fly or re-arming has proceeded at a feverish pace. Only in the Arab-Israeli conflict has the world become accepting of a certain level of rocket fire aimed at civilians as ‘normal’. This absurd state of affairs should hardly be institutionalized with our acquiescence. Instead, Hamas should be called to respond to points raised above.

Hamas started a war, violated 11 ceasefires, and lost. This appeal to Israel – designed to provide Hamas time and cover to replenish its arms and continue “low level” rocket fire – is an “offer” that should be treated with precisely the disdain it deserves.

About the Author
Elihu D Stone practiced law in Boston, Massachusetts and is currently a member of the Israeli Bar; He is involved in the Al Durah Project, an initiative dedicated to understanding and countering the dilemmas and vulnerabilities that face democratic cultures in this age of aggressive asymmetric and cognitive warfare. Elihu has been privileged to serve in leadership roles for a variety of Jewish communal organizations and is an alumnus of the Wexner Heritage Foundation. The writer currently maintains a U.S. life insurance clientele and lives in Efrat, Israel
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