The fierce fighting in Gaza could push the incoming Barack Obama administration to accelerate its promised plunge into Middle East peacemaking and possibly expand back-channel contacts with Hamas. With the Obama administration set to hit the ground running after next week’s inauguration, a broad spectrum of observers predict a sharp increase in the intensity of U.S. diplomacy in the region — both a fulfillment of Obama’s campaign promise and a response to the ongoing Gaza crisis. But few expect radical changes in the content of that diplomacy.
Gary Rosenblatt |
Editor and Publisher
Even as Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza grinds on, attracting headlines around the world and support among pro-Israel advocates, I have the disturbing but distinct sense that the Jewish state is on the way to becoming increasingly irrelevant to the majority of American Jews.
Despite Israel’s claims that the war against Hamas has damaged it militarily, Hamas continued firing rockets into Israel Wednesday from the Gaza Strip and rejected a proposed permanent cease-fire even as Israel considered expanding its ground assault.
“We are not looking for a cease-fire, but a cease of terror,” Israeli President Shimon Peres said Wednesday. “No nation has ever had such a confrontation.”
In endorsing Tuesday the Israeli-Palestinian peace process begun by the United States, the United Nations Security Council also adopted its three core principles: mutual recognition, the end to violence and a two-state solution built upon previous agreements.
“Israel welcomes all the support we receive from the international community and moderate nations in the region regarding the peace process,” Israeli UN Ambassador Gabriela Shalev told reporters. “But we want to remind everybody that all negotiations are bilateral.”
The targeted assassination Tuesday of Hezbollah’s top military officer believed responsible for a series of high-profile terrorist attacks that killed hundreds — including the 1992 bombing of the Israeli embassy in Argentina and the 2006 kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers — is a “major setback” for that organization, according to an Israeli terrorism expert.