NEW YORK – Senior Trump administration officials are placing full blame on Hamas for an increasingly dangerous military standoff with Israel in Gaza.Four members of the administration responsible for crafting Israel policy penned an op-ed in CNN on Saturday, claiming a “paradigm shift” is under way at the UN, in which member states are for the first time placing blame for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza on Hamas terrorists.Pressuring Hamas is critical, the US team asserted, in its effort to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians – and in staving off a new war in the region.With the launching of rockets and arson kites, Hamas is “pushing Israel to engage in increasingly significant acts of self-defense,” the group added.Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser; Jason Greenblatt, US special representative for international negotiations; Nikki Haley, ambassador to the United Nations; and David Friedman, ambassador to Israel, wrote the piece. It was the second op-ed on the topic in two days from members of the Trump administration, following an article that appeared in The Washington Post on Friday.
They cite a vote that took place last month in the UN General Assembly, when Algeria proposed a resolution criticizing Israel’s treatment of Palestinians in Gaza without referencing Hamas. Algeria tried – and failed – to shut down debate on a US amendment that would have added condemnation of Hamas.“Nothing like this had ever been done before at the United Nations. Hundreds of resolutions passed by the General Assembly dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have failed even to mention Hamas,” the group wrote. “When the amendment came to a vote, a miracle by UN standards happened. Although the measure ultimately failed for technical reasons, more nations voted for holding Hamas accountable with the US amendment than against it.“For the first time in the United Nations, more nations than not acknowledged that peace between Israel and the Palestinian people must be built on a foundation of truth regarding Hamas,” the US team added. “They recognized that reconciliation is impossible if reality is denied for the sake of scoring political points. And part of that reality is recognizing the primary responsibility Hamas bears in perpetuating the suffering of the people of Gaza.” The four top officials said that Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – a controversial decision widely condemned by the international community, but praised by Israelis and the president’s political base – would serve as a model in their larger Middle East peace plan, which the White House is expected to unveil by the end of the year.“That foundation of reality underscores our administration’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” the group said. “The peace proposal we will make will be similarly realistic, recognizing the legitimate needs of both Israel and the Palestinians as well as the interests of the broader region.“No one will be fully pleased with our proposal,” they added, “but that’s the way it must be if real peace is to be achieved. Peace can only succeed if it is based on realities.”
United Nations condemns excessive Israeli force against Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and east Jerusalem, June 13, 2018 (Reuters)