By Jonathan Schanzer, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Jonathan Schanzer is vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury. He tweets at @JSchanzer. The views expressed are his own.
The latest round in an endless cycle of violence between Israel and Gaza has culminated in a surprising win for the US- Israel relationship: an apparent renewal of vows between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu.
It’s surprising because the relationship appeared to be at its nadir. It was just a few months ago that editorial pages charged Netanyahu with meddling in U.S. politics, angling for a Mitt Romney victory over President Obama. With Obama having soundly thumped Romney at the ballot box, U.S. relations with Israel appeared due for a four-year winter.
By Doug Bandow, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, specializing in foreign policy and civil liberties, and worked as a special assistant to President Reagan. The views expressed are his own.
The latest round of violence between Israel and Hamas has ebbed. But nothing has been settled.
Hamas has failed at the basic task of governing while ruling with an iron hand. Moreover, nothing justifies spraying Israeli cities with missiles.
However, Israel has contributed mightily to the violence. Israel occupied Gaza for four decades and continues to occupy the West Bank, with which Gaza long was intimately connected. Only in 2005 did Prime Minister Ariel Sharon finally remove 8,000 settlers, who enjoyed a privileged existence in the midst of more than one million Palestinians, many of them refugees or descended from refugees forcibly displaced by Israel’s formation.
By Matthew Duss, Special to CNN
Matthew Duss is a policy analyst and director of Middle East Progress at the Center for American Progress. The views expressed are his own.
As rumors of a possible Egyptian-brokered cease-fire between Israel and Hamas spread, it’s important to understand the reality of life in Gaza that forms the background of the current round of fighting, and the policy changes that must be made in the hopes of preventing yet another round in the future. Specifically, Israel and the United States should support Egypt as it works with Gaza’s Hamas government to end the rocket attack against Israel, but also find a mutually agreeable formula for ending the isolation of Gaza from the neighboring region.
Israel has occupied the Gaza Strip since 1967, when it took control from Egypt in the 1967 War. Security around Gaza was considerably tightened during the Second Intifada, which saw multiple suicide terror attacks by Hamas against civilians inside Israel. In response to Hamas’ abduction of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June 2006, and further in response to the breakdown of the Palestinian unity government and the takeover of Gaza by Hamas, Israel enacted a strict blockade against Gaza, with the support of both the U.S. and Egyptian governments. As Dov Wiesglass, an adviser to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, described it, “The idea [was] to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger,” in order to put pressure on the Hamas government.
CNN speaks with former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, who also more recently served as a special envoy to the Middle East, about the Israel-Gaza violence and what role Egypt could play.
What do you think about the possibility of a ceasefire?
Well, the Egyptians are now working hard as they have in the past to establish a ceasefire and a truce. Over the past several years most of the time, the two sides have had an uneasy truce that’s been broken several times. I think for both sides there is an interest in continuing and interest at some point in stopping.
By Matthew Waxman, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Matthew C. Waxman is a Professor at Columbia Law School, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the Hoover Institution Task Force on National Security and Law. The views expressed are his own.
In all the talk and debate about possible U.S. or Israeli military strikes against Iranian nuclear development sites, there has been remarkably little discussion of international law. In a recent Washington Post Op-Ed, a former State Department legal adviser and former CIA general counsel lamented that there “has been almost no discussion of whether an attack by the United States would be legal.” One might easily wonder, based on this near-silence amid public debates about red lines and likely effects of strikes on Iranian capabilities and regional politics, whether international law will really matter at all if the crisis should come to military blows.
But it will matter, because strategy and international law are entwined, a reality illustrated 50 years ago this week, in another nuclear showdown: the Cuban Missile Crisis.
By Michael Rubin, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School. The views expressed are his own.
Iran took center stage Monday night at President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney’s third and final presidential debate. But any Iranian leader watching the debate will have walked away happy. While Obama and Romney both spoke about augmenting pressure on Tehran, and their opposition to an Iranian nuclear bomb, neither offered a prescription that will force the Iranian government to abandon its program. Nor did either candidate suggest that the threat posed by Iran was not simply nuclear weapons, but rather the regime that would wield them.
Obama’s talking points were more about politics than policy. He was quick to claim credit where none is due. While his policy now centers on sanctions, the pressure Iran now faces came despite Obama’s policy rather than because of it. Obama entered office determined to engage Iranian leaders diplomatically. “If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us,” he declared less than a week after taking his oath of office. To claim credit for rallying the international coalition against Iran is to exaggerate: After all, during the Bush administration, the same coalition passed four unanimous or near unanimous U.N. Security Council resolutions to demand Iran suspend enrichment and to target sanctions toward Tehran’s nuclear program.