The first thing one has to realize is that to Hamas this agreement is not an actual peace agreement as any in the West would consider, it is actually what in Islam is known as a hudna. The reality is that Hamas as an Islamic jihadist military unit, any other reference or description of Hamas is a pure falsehood, and they cannot enter into any form of actual peace agreement with an infidel, let alone the nation of the Jews. What they are permitted is to enter a hudna which is based upon the deal the prophet Mohammad struck with the Quraysh tribe that controlled Mecca in the seventh century where the peace was to last ten years but after two years Muhammad felt his forces were now sufficiently stronger than their enemies so he used a minor infraction as the excuse to negate the hudna attacking and destroying his enemies. This is the peace that Hamas has offered, a hudna just as they have twice before where after two years Hamas returned to warfare as soon as they had regained sufficient munitions to cause Israel potentially great amounts of damage and spread terror through continuous rocket attacks and surprise attacks using their tunnel systems which Israel eventually presumably destroyed as they located them. An agreed hudna with Hamas or Islamic Jihad or other Islamic forces only guarantees that they will return to violent assaults as soon as they reach a position where they feel confident that the situations are favorable for them to gain some form of victory. Such a victory does not necessarily mean an outright victory but in the case of Hamas such an advantage might be as simple as gaining greater access to the outside world or solely to their main supporters, Qatar and Iran. If any Western nation or groups of nations enter a hudna they would soon face a situation which may have been best described by Patrick Henry’s adaptation of the Bible verse from Jeremiah 6:14 while addressing the Virginia House of Burgesses during their debating whether or not to join the revolution against England and King George III where Mr. Henry orated, “Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace; but there is no peace.” Unfortunately I believe that this will describe the situation after this supposed open-ended ceasefire, probably an even better description for a hudna than most dictionary definitions as an open-ended ceasefire only continues as long as neither side takes it upon themselves to close the agreement ending the ceasefire and reestablish open warfare in a single moment without any necessity of informing the other side; they will likely figure it out fairly soon.
The problem many have with these repetitive conflicts initiated by Hamas concerns what results is Hamas actually aiming to reach? They obviously are not going to defeat Israel as the IDF has far greater capabilities and if the tome of battle were to turn against Israel, the IDF commanders only need be given orders to increase efforts and remove some of the restrictions on their troops when they consider opening fire on threats and targets they encounter. There have been estimates that IDF attacks, particularly IAF airstrikes, are called off or avoided simply because of innocents entering the field of fire or because legitimate Hamas targets were set up adjacent to protected target areas where civilians faced extensive casualties including fatalities had a full-on assault, bombardment, bombing or other means of combat been employed. Israel released a number of videos which depicted examples of IAF bombings being cancelled when the pilot informed his base that there were civilians, especially children, were entering the area and would be within the potential blast radius, especially if there were secondary explosions due to armaments being present within the targeted buildings or areas. The sole aim of Hamas is identical to that of the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas, to use the modern day versions of the ageless anti-Semitic blood libels and poison Israel before the rest of the world engaging international NGOs, human rights groups and the various United Nations bodies and agencies with special efforts to gain a binding Security Council Resolution either forcing Israel to surrender the lands the Arabs lost after their attacks on Israel in 1967 and eventually a decree rescinding the establishment of Israel and the numerous treaties and agreements ending World War I, from the League of Nations and finally from the United Nations. It has been the Pan-Arab strategy ever since they were unsuccessful in 1967 and again, despite having complete surprise, in 1973. This intent has been part and parcel of Mahmoud Abbas as Yasser Arafat’s second in command from the founding of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964, a full three years before the existence of the so-called occupied territories unless you agree with Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas as well as Hamas and Islamic Jihad that all of Israel is occupied Arab lands.
Right now, unfortunately, the immediate problem in Israel is that many of the leadership who have controlled the politics for the past decades have tired of the repeated open terror conflicts, abductions, bombings, stabbings, rockets, mortars, rock attacks and the various other acts of violence losing their intestinal fortitude making them accept every offered cease in the violence even should they repeatedly prove to be simply false offers made simply to permit the terrorist forces to resupply and reposition before resuming their attacks. This was made excessively evident during the recent conflict with Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Israeli’s defensive efforts named Protective Edge. Prime Minister Netanyahu was so anxious each time Hamas proposed a ceasefire or even to suggested ceasefires by Egypt at a minimum even if he managed to resist the complete surrender conditional terms offered by some presumed allied powers. The Prime Minister appeared to be excessively sensitive to any criticism that his actions including firing a member of his own party from their position as an Assistant Minister in the Cabinet, shouting down demanding that the leader of another party cease his comments which were counter to the Prime Minister’s positions and accepting a ceasefire unilaterally only informing the members of his Security Cabinet after the decision had been made thus avoiding any difficulties a Cabinet vote may have caused. These actions by the Prime Minister came as for the first time in decades the vast majority of the Israeli people were in complete support for any military response the Prime Minister might have ordered including the retaking of Gaza and the complete defeat of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and the other terrorist groups in Gaza. The blowback of the Prime Minister acting with such timidity despite the supportive expectations from the Israelis drove his approval ratings down from their highest point of 82% at the beginning of the conflict down a full 44% to rest currently at 38% and likely to drop further; especially should Hamas break this ceasefire any time soon.
The problem is that as a parliamentary form of government the people do not directly elect the Prime Minister and instead can vote only for a particular party and whichever party gathers the most votes along with the necessary support of other parties in order to form a coalition which then chooses the Prime Minister, almost always the candidate chosen to lead the ministers of the party which was chosen to form the coalition. This means that as long as the old guard can manage to hold control over their party, something they often can continue to manage as these older leaders are the same people who tend to find ways of ordering the list for ministerships in any election where they can place their allies and supporters at the front end guaranteeing their continued control. This unfortunately means that any change is far more difficult and making any overt change in leadership or deviation in the positions the government represents. The proof of this can be seen by looking at the names in the names of those in the top positions and holding the most important ministerships over the last two decades where one will see some alterations but no across the board changes. Netanyahu, Livni and Lieberman have been in positions of importance of heading a party even if not in every coalition over much of that time and there are numerous other names with only a few changes such as Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett and only time will tell if either of these newcomers will be capable of retaining their positions in the future, though I have a feeling one of them has a bright future. There have been increasingly loud calls for a reformation in how the leadership of the government is determined with many making such noises calling for an actual Constitution which will spell out a means for the direct election of the Prime Minister independent of the Knesset parliamentary elections. This idea will eventually be realized and very possibly much sooner if governments and especially Prime Ministers refuse to heed the desires and demands of the people and especially should future Prime Ministers ignore the wills of the people and act unilaterally circumventing their own Security Cabinet out of fear of conflict. Such actions if they become commonplace will force demands for such changes with far more immediacy. For now it will be interesting to see what happens should Hamas break this ceasefire anytime in the next six to ten weeks.
Beyond the Cusp