It strikes us as rather incongruous that Secretary of State Kerry has repeatedly given full-throated endorsements of Israel’s right to respond to Hamas’s aggression but all the while indicating that others beside Israel should determine when Israel should call a halt to its efforts.
In fact, despite the unequivocal U.S. support for Israel during Operation Protective Edge, Mr. Kerry, with his frenzied determination to implement a cease-fire and his declarations that Hamas will have a seat at the negotiating table once the fighting is over, threatens to undermine Israel’s efforts at striking a decisive blow against Hamas’s warmaking capabilities.
On Sunday, Mr. Kerry told CNN’s Candy Crowley:
Israel is under siege by a terrorist organization that has seen fit to dig tunnels and come through those tunnels with handcuffs and tranquilizer drugs, prepared to try to capture Israeli citizens and take them back to hold them hostage. No country could sit by and not take steps to try to deal with people who are sending thousands of rockets your way…. People can’t live that way. And Hamas needs to understand. We are supporting the Egyptian initiative for a cease-fire. We will work for a fair cease-fire, and we will work afterward, as we have shown our willingness to try to deal with the underlying issues. But they must step up and show a level of reasonableness, and they need to accept the offer of a cease-fire, and then we will certainly discuss all of the issues relevant to the underlying crisis….
[N]o human being is comfortable with children being killed, with people being killed. But we’re not comfortable with Israeli soldiers being killed either, or with people being rocketed in Israel…. The fact is that we’ve asked Israel, and Israel has said we will try to reduce whatever we can with respect to civilian involvement, and civilians have been warned to move well ahead of time. The fact is that Hamas uses civilians as shields, and they fire from a home and draw the fire into the home….
We need to have a cease-fire, and then we need to have a reasonableness to once and for all address the underlying issue so that hopefully, people could find a way to live that is different from the way Gaza has had to live and Israel has had to live and the West Bank has had to live for far too many years…. Hamas, you know, began rocketing…in response to Israel’s legitimate efforts to try to find people who killed and kidnapped three young Israeli boys…. [W]e want to see a cease-fire, but it’s got to be a cease-fire without a lot of rewards for terrorist behavior…. and then we can sit down, and the United States will fully guarantee to all parties that we’re prepared to talk about all the issues.
So on the one hand Secretary Kerry makes no bones about who is at fault for the current hostilities: he clearly blames Hamas. Yet his insistence on a U.S. interest in discussing “all of the issues relevant to the underlying crisis” plays into Hamas hands.
Hamas insists it will not agree to a cease-fire until Israel ends the blockade of Gaza and frees Hamas terrorists it is holding, and Egypt opens up its border with Gaza. Yet the aforementioned grievances stem from efforts by Israel and Egypt to thwart continued Hamas terrorism. What redeeming value does Mr. Kerry think lies in Hamas’s position? And if he really feels Hamas is a party with which the U.S. can “talk about all the issues,” how seriously should anyone take his indictment of Hamas’s conduct?