UNSC gaza 248.88.
(photo credit: AP)
There can be nothing more valid or just than Israel's security cabinet's pledge to press on with the Gaza operation regardless of UN disapproval. It is exactly as the prime minister's statement encapsulated: "Israel has never agreed that any outside body would determine its right to defend the security of its citizens."
Friday's rocket attacks, following the UN Security Council's call for an immediate cease-fire, the statement continued, "only prove that UNSC Resolution 1860 is not practical and will not be honored in actual fact by the Palestinian murder organizations."
Even before Israel's official reaction, Hamas responded with more violence to the council's resolution. The terrorists - who hold sway over Gaza, arm it to the teeth, cynically turn its inhabitants into human shields and indiscriminately rocket an ever-broadening range of civilian targets within sovereign Israel - rushed to reject the resolution. The endorsement the resolution won from the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority is irrelevant.
This, however, doesn't necessarily remove the onus from Israel - though in a fairer world it certainly should. The international community, which for over eight years calmly tolerated the targeting of ordinary Israelis, chose to speak out only when Israel finally acted to protect its populace. In that context, the council's alacrity to impose a cease-fire looks more like a bid to impede Israel's self-defense.
This is a rerun of the UN's obstructionist role during Israel's 2002 Operation Defensive Shield. Then, too, the organization was intent on bringing Israel's resort to force to a standstill before it had impacted the Palestiniansâ€š suicide-bombing infrastructure, amid much hand-wringing about the Palestinians' humanitarian situation, but without reference to who bore responsibility for their plight. At that time, too, Israel didn't heed a one-sided resolution which required it to sacrifice its own self-preservation interests.
Disconcertingly, Resolution 1860 was adopted overnight Thursday by a 14-0 margin. Jerusalem was given cause to expect an American veto, but the US chose instead to abstain because, according to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, it awaited Egyptian mediation results. Rice apparently had no quarrel with the resolution's content and emphases, regarding it as "a road map for a sustainable, durable peace in Gaza." Hence Israel may well expect increased pressure to halt its operation regardless of ongoing Hamas aggression - wan diplomatic lip-service against Gazan Kassam and Grad barrages notwithstanding.
Although the resolution clearly obligates Israeli forces to withdraw, and although much of its text is devoted to the welfare of Gazans, it does not so much as mention Hamas and its relentless terrorist predations on Israelis.
Just a few days ago Israel witnessed the utter bankruptcy of UN resolutions and peacekeeping when rockets were fired from Lebanon into the western Galilee - in flagrant contravention of Security Council Resolution 1701 and practically under the eyes of UNIFIL observers. The UN might have evinced greater humility in view of its demonstrated impotence.
Instead it persisted in producing another hollow declaration lacking real substance or potential. The UN patently possesses no ability to fulfill its professed worthy promises. How do the UNSC members propose to prevent missile attacks on Israel or prevent more gunrunning into Gaza? How, indeed, does Rice contemplate turning the resolution's verbiage into "a sustainable, durable peace?"
Her British counterpart David Miliband described the UN as finally "speaking clearly with one voice" for a cease-fire, prevention of weapon-smuggling and opening of border-crossings. We wish that were the case, but there's sadly no clarity here. Can the UN truly guarantee a cease-fire, when it failed so far, or is it indifferent to Israeli suffering? Can the UN end illicit arms trafficking? Can the UN make sure that free passage to and from Gaza won't facilitate terror atrocities?
Ceasing fire while Hamas retains a sizable arsenal, while Iran stands poised to rearm it, and while the Philadelphi Corridor remains breached, constitutes a surefire recipe for new and bloodier rounds. This would be disastrous not only for Israel but for those Free World states whose delegates cast anti-Israel votes at the Security Council. They may be ungrateful, but Israel is fighting their fight too.