White House Deputy National Security Adviser Tony Blinken told NPR on Wednesday that any ceasefire ending the current round of hostilities between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip should include “some form of demilitarization so that [the conflict] doesn’t continue, doesn’t repeat itself,” one of a growing list of statements by U.S. policymakers and observers assessing that any truce between Jerusalem and the terror group should include provisions that disarmed Hamas. Blinken emphasized that such a scenario “needs to be the end result.”
Daniel Nisman and Ron Gilran – respectively the president and the vice president of intelligence at the Levantine Group, a geopolitical risk consultancy based in Israel – had already over the weekend identified Israel’s Operation Protective Edge as chance for the Israelis to leverage battlefield victories into a truce:
There is, however, a rare opportunity for a regional arrangement which could ultimately bring an end to the cycle of violence in Gaza. As part of any ceasefire, the international community should demand that Hamas dismantle its rockets and those of other fringe groups in exchange for a lifting of the blockade by Israel and Egypt. Israeli government officials are increasingly citing the Syrian example of a successful case where a credible threat of military force succeeded in extracting destabilizing weapons from the region, in a sign that Jerusalem may be warming up to such an agreement.
The Washington Post‘s editorial board on Wednesday came to a similar conclusion:
The tunnels are the reason that the government of Benjamin Netanyahu decided last weekend to launch a ground invasion of Gaza, and they explain why that operation has strong support from Israelis in spite of the relatively heavy casualties it has inflicted. Most significantly, the tunnels show why it has been difficult to reach a cease-fire and why any accord must forge a new political and security order in Gaza.
The Post more specifically noted that border concessions made by the Israelis or the Egyptians should be linked “to the return to Gaza of the security forces of the Palestinian Authority, the disarmament of Hamas and elections for a new government.”
For his part, top Hamas official Khaled Meshaal, speaking on Wednesday at a news conference in Qatar, declared that “no one will disarm the resistance… we are the victim, despite our victory.”
[Photo: The New York Times / YouTube]