The White House’s June 20 statement on Gaza is immensely revealing of the
shortcomings in US policy. It isn’t at all just a matter of policy toward Israel
but of a failure to consider the broader US national interest.
real issue: Does the US want the long-term existence of a revolutionary Islamist
mini-state on the Mediterranean, spreading terrorism and anti-Semitism, eager to
go to war with Israel again, working hard to block any Israel-Palestinian peace,
expelling Christians, oppressing women and subverting moderate Arab states? It
begins: “The president has described the situation in Gaza as unsustainable and
has made clear that it demands fundamental change.”
One would expect the
words “unsustainable” and “demands fundamental change” to mean the
demands the overthrow of the Hamas regime. In fact, it signifies the
opposite: He demands that regime’s stabilization.
The statement continues
by describing Obama’s plan to give roughly $200 million to Gaza as “a
payment on the US commitment to the people of Gaza, who deserve a chance
part in building a viable, independent state of Palestine, together with
who live in the West Bank.”
Just think of that paragraph’s implications:
a “down payment” on a “US commitment,” that is, not an act of generosity
which the US must get something in return. Rather, the phrasing makes it
the US owes them the money.
Moreover, such aid retards rather than
advances building a Palestinian state by shoring up a Hamas government
against the Palestinian Authority, against peace with Israel and against
Note, too, that Hamas is put on an equal plane with
the PA. And couldn’t the administration have said that the state must be
in the context of the Oslo Accords or under the PA’s leadership? There
mention of even the Quartet conditions: Nothing is said about Hamas
terrorism or accepting Israel’s existence or submitting to the PA as the
The statement is absolutely unconditional. Only
the “humanitarian” consideration counts, as if the US government is a
organizer building a welfare program.
THIS ABDICATION of strategy and
politics would be like the US making a commitment to help the people of
Vietnam during the Vietnam War or North Korea during the Korean War by
in money and goods unconditionally, saying this would help lead to a
Don’t those who govern the Gaza Strip as a dictatorship
(an anti-Semitic, anti-American, terrorist, revolutionary Islamist,
genocidal, Christian-expelling, women-repressing and allied to Iran
at that) matter one bit? The announcement continued by welcoming
policy as something that “should significantly improve conditions for
Palestinians in Gaza, while preventing the entry of weapons.”
words, the US has no problem with Hamas ruling Gaza as long as weapons
out. There is absolutely no strategic concept in the US
Meanwhile, the White House makes clear that Israel’s
concessions aren’t sufficient. Blandly but incredibly, the statement
“We will work...
to explore additional ways to improve the situation in
Gaza, including greater freedom of movement and commerce between Gaza
Now while it is true that this could mean PA supporters go to
Gaza and subvert the regime’s power, it’s more likely that the practical
implication would be that Hamas militants, bomb-makers and agitators
into the West Bank. When Israel restricts the passage between the two
would it then be accused of inhibiting Palestinian “freedom of
anyone in the administration think of conditioning the easing of the
the US aid on Gilad Schalit’s release or some other Hamas concession? Of
And the statement ends: “We urge all those wishing to deliver goods
to do so through established channels so that their cargo can be
transferred via land crossings into Gaza. There is no need for
Of course, all of this won’t discourage ships sailing
and pro-Hamas militants seeking confrontation. After all, Western policy
them that confrontation means massive victories in demonizing Israel and
concessions. Why should anyone dismiss them as “unnecessary”? In this
there is not one word criticizing Hamas. And there is no hint that any
has been given to the strategic implications of accepting a Hamas regime
allowing it to normalize the economic situation even while it is
nightmare political and social situation for Gazans.
Let’s assume the
administration had the same goals but went about it with different
would condemn Hamas extensively but then say that, of course, it should
able to hold the people in Gaza as hostages and that they should not
because they are ruled by a terrible dictatorship.
The statement could
look forward to the day when they are liberated from these extremist,
rulers. I’m not saying this is my preferred policy, but it is a way for
Obama administration to implement its policy without abandoning any
interest in weakening Iran-backed revolutionary Islamism and
In other words, the administration could have said: Hamas is
our enemy; the people of Gaza are our friends. We don’t want you to
want you to get rid of Hamas, join with the PA and make a lasting peace
Israel. If you are moderate and abandon terrorism, you will be better
get your own state through negotiations with Israel.
But that was not the
strategic line taken.
In this bland little White House statement we see
the current US government’s massive strategic failure.
The writer is
director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center and
Middle East Review of International Affairs and Turkish Studies. He
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