By Danielle Pletka, Special to CNN
Danielle Pletka is the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. The views expressed are her own.
This small war between Hamas and Israel will pass. The just announced ceasefire may be sustained. Or Israel may move from aerial bombardment to a ground incursion, which will deter Hamas from relighting the fuse for some time. But not forever, because Hamas exists only to fight with Israel. It has no other purpose. Those who counter that Hamas governs need only look at Gaza to understand that governance is far from Hamas’ aims or abilities. Will this late 2012 battle end differently for the Palestinians? Advance a two state solution? Heal the ills of the Palestinians? Allow Israel to live in peace and security? No.
Another question: Will the realignment of the Middle East to an order more congenial to Hamas matter? Clearly, Hamas believed that with its Muslim Brotherhood brethren at the helm in Egypt and the new spiritual leader of the region’s Sunni Islamists at the helm in Turkey, this adventure would end differently. Of course, Hamas’ hope was not to destroy the state of Israel. Rather, it was to gain the upper hand in its endless and fruitless battle against Fatah for the Palestinian political mantle, ideally with the wind of the Arab world’s Islamist revolutions at its back. That won’t happen either. Egypt’s Mohamed Morsy and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan are willing to lend rhetorical support and a few visits to Gaza, but they’re never going to do anything substantial for Palestinians because they neither care enough about actual Palestinian people nor wish to queer their pitch with Europe and the United States.
By Robert Danin, CFR
Editor's note: Robert Danin is Eni Enrico Mattei Senior Fellow for Middle East and Africa Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. This entry of Middle East Matters originally appeared here. The views expressed are his own.
By Israel’s accounting, Operation Pillar of Defense has achieved many if not most of its major objectives: assassinating Hamas’ long-sought after military mastermind Ahmed Ja’abari and other top officials, destroying much of Hamas’ long-range arsenal of imported Iranian-produced Fajr-5 missiles, and eliminating other significant high-value military targets. Despite this, however, a number of unintended consequences have already emerged, ranging from the boosting of Hamas’ prominence, undermining its isolation, further weakening the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas, and diverting regional attention from Syria.
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.
On September 18, 1978, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin signed the so-called Camp David Accords, cementing the notion that land for peace would become the basis for a resolution of the Arab-Israel conflict. Their agreement led to a peace treaty the following year between Israel and Egypt. However the current fighting between Israel and Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip ends, one thing is certain: the era of land-for-peace is over.
At first, Jimmy Carter’s land-for-peace formula looked promising. One in three Arabs lived in Egypt. Within the White House and at Foggy Bottom, presidents and diplomats believed that where Egypt went, so would go the Arab world. Hence, the precedent of trading the Sinai for peace became a source of hope.
By International Crisis Group
The International Crisis Group’s Robert Blecher, director of ICG’s Israel/Palestine Project, discusses the latest outbreak of violence between Israel and Gaza, and what it means for the region. The views expressed are Blecher’s own, and are based on a video interview conducted today.
Why is the violence we’re seeing today so much worse than in recent years?
The violence today between Israel and Gaza is the worst that there’s been since Operation Cast Lead four years ago. Israel right now is in an election season and the government is running on a platform of security and stability. It makes them look completely impotent if they can’t stop hundreds of rockets from raining down on their citizenry. The citizenry has a real demand for safety and security.
Also, from the perspective of the Israeli government, they want to change the rules of the game. They want to reestablish deterrence with Hamas – the kind of deterrence that has not existed in a number of years now. So they want to force Hamas to do things differently.
By Fareed Zakaria
If President Obama is looking for high approval ratings, he should travel abroad. The numbers from a recent Pew Survey are astounding: 74 percent of Italians have a positive view of Obama, as do 69 percent of French, 60 percent of Britons and 58 percent of Spanish.
These numbers have actually dipped since 2009 – when they were truly stratospheric. But there are two trends that are particularly noticeable. One is the drop in confidence in Obama in Russia and China. Many Russians and Chinese are recognizing that they have issues with the American president because there are geopolitical differences between their country and the U.S., and that whoever is president, those differences are going to persist. Obama was never going to be able to wave a magic wand and make such divides disappear.
Then there’s the Arab world, where there has been much deeper disappointment (although it’s worth remembering that President Obama wasn’t all that popular there in the first place, contrary to conventional wisdom). In this case, the disappointment stems from hopes in the region that Obama would push harder with Israel over the creation of a Palestinian state. In addition, almost everyone is unhappy with the use of drone attacks.
By Jonathan Schanzer, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Jonathan Schanzer is Vice President of Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and author of ‘Hamas vs Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine.’ The views expressed are solely those of the writer.
Even if Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad somehow survives the current uprising aimed at toppling his regime, the beleaguered dictator will have a lingering identity problem. Indeed, a long-standing pillar of Syria’s foreign policy has been support to the Palestinian “resistance” against Israel. But in the wake of the Syrian onslaught, the country’s estimated 500,000 Palestinians are abandoning – even challenging – their long-time champion. With this dramatic shift, al-Assad is left more isolated in the Middle East than ever before.
Reports from the region continue to confirm what would have been deemed impossible just two short years ago: Palestinians are turning against the regime. Human Rights Watch notes that, “Palestinians have joined anti-government protests.” One FSA commander, meanwhile, has boasted, “Palestinians are fighting alongside us, and they are well trained.”
It doesn’t help that the regime is murdering Palestinians. On Thursday, the regime reportedly killed 20 when it shelled a refugee camp. Reports before that indicated that al-Assad’s campaign had already claimed the lives of some 300 Palestinians. It’s still unclear just how many Palestinians have responded by taking up arms to challenge the regime, but a clearer picture is emerging of who is abandoning al-Assad in his hour of need.
By Malou Innocent and Ehud Eilam, Global Post
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has claimed that Hezbollah – the Lebanon-based, Iranian-backed, politico-military terrorist organization – was responsible for the suicide bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists. Amid ongoing U.S. and Israeli threats to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities, the bombing raises a critical concern about any potential conflict: a very capable Hezbollah, together with Iran, would likely strike back hard – and not only in the Middle East – drawing the United States into another prolonged and bloody conflict in the Muslim world that it doesn’t need. Such a scenario should make those advocating war with Iran take pause.
War-weary Lebanese don’t want their country turning into another battleground against Israel. Hezbollah would also risk alienating its predominately Shiite political constituency. But the ideological and financial ties between top leaders in Tehran and Hezbollah could trump such considerations, especially in the event of an Israeli or Israeli-U.S. attack on fellow Muslims in Iran.
By Elliott Abrams, CFR
Elliott Abrams is a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. The views expressed are solely those of the author. This entry of Pressure Points originally appeared here.
From the moment when Hamas took over Gaza in 2007 while the West Bank remained under the control of the Fatah Party and the Palestinian Authority, the question of Gaza’s relationship to Egypt has been open.
Gaza was under Egyptian control from 1948 to 1967, under Israeli control from 1967 to 2005, and under Palestinian Authority control from 2005 to 2007. After the Hamas coup in June 2007, Egypt under Mubarak largely retained the border controls that Israel had put in place. Mubarak viewed Hamas with suspicion, as a radical group that was part of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). Perhaps more surprisingly, Egypt’s new government, itself dominated by the MB, has continued those controls.
On Sunday, I interviewed the former Prime Minister and current Defense Minister of Israel, Ehud Barak. We spoke about Israel's settlement activities in the West Bank and the degree to which they may jeopardize future discussions with the Palestinians about the creation of a Palestinian state.
Here's a transcript of our discussion:
Fareed Zakaria: You ordered, this week, the removal of a settler family from Hebron over the prime minister's objections because you believed you had to uphold the law.
But yet, there is a similar situation going on with settlers in the Beit El community, where a court has ordered that the settlements be evacuated and yet the government, the prime minister has told the attorney general to find some other solution. Why would you not uphold the law and a court order in that case, as well? FULL POST
Sunday at 10am and 1pm EST on CNN's GPS, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak discusses a range of issues including the possibility of an Israeli strike on Iran.
In the excerpt below, Barak addresses the issue of Israel's settlement building.
Fareed Zakaria: The Palestinians are sending you a letter, though, arguing that if negotiations between the Palestinians and the Israelis must resume, Israel must stop building settlements - creating facts on the ground that will make it more and more difficult to create a two-state solution. Is there any prospect of that happening?
Ehud Barak: Fareed, I hope that it will happen. I think that most of the burden for the inability to move in the last three years happens to be on the Palestinians' shoulders, not on ours. FULL POST
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave President Obama a gift in Washington this week. It was a copy of the book of Esther, which tells the tale of a benevolent king who saved the Jewish people from an enemy who wished to destroy them - a Persian enemy (not very subtle).
So where does the Israel-Iran conflict end? On Sunday, I had an excellent panel to talk about that and much more.
Daniel Levy is co-director of the Middle East Task Force of the New America Foundation.
Bret Stephens is the foreign affairs columnist for the Wall Street Journal.
Rula Jebreal is an Israeli-Arab journalist who has worked as an anchorwoman in Italy and Egypt.
Elliott Abrams was deputy national security advisor in George W. Bush's administration.
Here's a transcript of our conversation (video above):
By Elizabeth Mendes, Gallup.com
The large majority of Americans continue to view Israel favorably, while far fewer say they view the Palestinian Authority or Iran very or mostly favorably.
These data are from Gallup's annual World Affairs survey, conducted each February since 2001. The Feb. 2-5, 2012, survey asked Americans to rate a list of more than 20 countries. Iran ranked at the very bottom, the Palestinian Authority was several spots higher up, and Israel was much closer to the top of the list. FULL POST
The Global Public Square is where you can make sense of the world every day with insights and explanations from CNN's Fareed Zakaria, leading journalists at TIME and CNN, and other international thinkers. Join GPS editor Jason Miks and get informed about global issues, exposed to unique stories, and engaged with diverse and original perspectives.
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