Reckless Kerry risks causing escalation

If Israel is forced to undertake an expanded ground operation, it would be appropriate to name the offensive after the person who caused it: John Kerry.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talks to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 25, 2014, from his hotel room in t... / Photo by AFP
By Ari Shavit
Published 14:06 28.07.14

The moderate wing in the Israeli security cabinet is led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. These two territorialist hawks are operational doves: They have no desire to conquer Gaza, or to cut it up, or to enter the population centers of Gaza. They are very afraid of shedding Israeli blood and also of a sudden collapse of international legitimacy. As a result, the strategy they have adopted is to weaken Hamas and not to destroy it – to prefer a diplomatic solution over a military one, and to aspire to a long-term, stable and early as possible cease-fire.

But facing these minimalists are the expansionists: Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett on one side, and certain senior IDF officers, too. This strange coalition is not cut from the same cloth. While the militant ministers hope to destroy Hamas, the officers are looking to penetrate deep into Hamas’ complexes to teach it a lesson it will never forget. But what the civilian hawks and the uniform-wearing hawks have in common is a desire not to stop, to advance and to derisively dismiss the notion that, in doing so, Israel is falling into a trap.

Until last weekend, the moderates held the upper hand. They felt the military achievements of Operation Protective Edge were rather good: The Iron Dome system intercepted the rocket attacks on Israel; the air force caused enormous and horrible damage in the Gaza Strip; and the ground forces destroyed 10 out of 12 offensive tunnels that threatened the Israeli communities near Gaza. At the same time, Hamas’ strategic capabilities were eroded somewhat, and the pressure on its leadership grew stronger. With proper management, the military success could have been translated to a certain extent into a significant diplomatic victory: The Egyptian initiative.

But over the weekend, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry ruined everything. Very senior officials in Jerusalem described the proposal that Kerry put on the table as a “strategic terrorist attack.” His decision to go hand in hand with Qatar and Turkey, and formulate a framework amazingly similar to the Hamas framework, was catastrophic. It put wind in the sails of Hamas’ political leader Khaled Meshal, allowed the Hamas extremists to overcome the Hamas moderates, and gave renewed life to the weakened regional alliance of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Obama administration proved once again that it is the best friend of its enemies, and the biggest enemy of its friends. The man of peace from Massachusetts intercepted with his own hands the reasonable cease-fire that was within reach, and pushed both the Palestinians and Israelis toward an escalation that most of them did not want.

So that is why everything now hangs in the balance. Hamas is exhausted, but fanning the flames time after time. Israel is showing restraint time after time. Netanyahu and Ya’alon are still managing a battle against those who may very well entangle Israel in a real war. But the way Kerry played into the hands of Turkey and Qatar, and the extremist Palestinians and Israelis, has created a situation that is still quite dangerous.

If Israel is forced to ultimately undertake an expanded ground operation in which dozens of young Israelis and hundreds of Palestinian civilians could lose their lives, it would be appropriate to name the offensive after the person who caused it: John Kerry. But if the escalation does not happen, instead we should remember that those who prevented it are three people the Obama administration loathes: Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, Benjamin Netanyahu and Moshe Ya’alon.


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  • 19.
    Reckless Kerry
    Apparently Shavit is not aware of Ron Dermer. Israel's ambassador to America, statement that the criticism of John Kerry is not warranted emphasizing that he speaks for the Prime Minister.
  • 18.
    And Shavit is what passes for a "moderate" in Israel......
    Everywhere else he would be regarded as what he really is: a warmongering apologist for a ultra-nationalist regime. But in Israel that makes him a "moderate". Go figure, heh?
  • 17.
    The 'moderate' Netanyahu
    If he was as moderate and wise as Mr. Shavit suggests, the Kerry peace negotiations would have resulted in an agreement. Then the tension in Gaza would have been taken out and this whole inhumane situation would not have occurred.
  • 16.
    Stop Standing as One With Israel
    Obama and Kerry should know by now that Israel will ignore all pleas for mercy unless there are consequences. Obama needs to support UN investigations into Israeli war crimes. Obama needs to cut aid to Israel significantly. Obama needs to support economic sanctions against Israel.
  • 15.
    Blame everyone and anyone but the actual perpetrators... Grow up. Get out of ALL non-Israeli territories. Never been tried!
  • 14.
    But Egypt was not invited to Paris and Abbas was not even consulted
    Sureky the aim should be to bolster te moderates (like Abbas and Jordan) and weaken the extremists (like Hamas, Erdogan and Qatar).
  • 13.
    Hilarious - looks like Haaretz is now as "moderate" like Bibi and Ya'alon
    "The moderate wing in the Israeli security cabinet is led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon. These two territorialist hawks are operational doves" If Bibi is the moderate wing, then Israel will indeed wish for the reputation that apartheid South Africa once had. Now Haaretz itself, having been drained of worldly and insightful voices, is left with crustied (yet still young), objectively center-right isolationists, as the country veers in an "all-in" on alienating the rest of the world. It's almost as if at a time he most sane voices are leaving the country, they are also leaving this paper.
  • 12.
    Israel's shame
    "By the time the shelling stops and this war is declared over, Israel will pray and wish that it could buy the kind of reputation that apartheid South Africa once had." Spot on remark, Bill.
  • 11.
    Shavit and Shalev: it's all the Americans' fault!
    It is so pathetic, the way Israeli columnists blame everything in this war--not on the thugs and brutes serving in the current Israeli government--but on the American government. It's all their fault. Shavit and Shalev, normally the best analysts writing for Ha'aretz, sometimes see things through a prism that just isn't there. Earlier, for instance, Shavit even blamed Barack Obama for "losing" Egypt, as if the great American father could have waved his hand and kept the raging mobs off of Tahir square. Now both Shavit and Shalev are spitting mad at John Kerry. While Israelis are slaughtering hundreds upon hundreds of children in Gaza, wounding thousands and destroying infrastructure and homes, all blame lies squarely with John Kerry and Barack Obama. This is laughable by any standard. By the time the shelling stops and this war is declared over, Israel will pray and wish that it could buy the kind of reputation that apartheid South Africa once had. Israel's shame is near total. Two quotes: from Ari Shavit we read: "If Israel is forced to ultimately undertake an expanded ground operation in which dozens of young Israelis and hundreds of Palestinian civilians could lose their lives, it would be appropriate to name the offensive after the person who caused it: John Kerry." From Chemi Shalev we read: "increasingly, Kerry comes across as a hapless nebekh, which many Americans pronounce as nebbish because, as Leo Rosten says, they don’t know how to clear their throats." I feel so sorry for you.
  • Ari Shavit etc
    I too was somewhat shocked by Shavit and Shalev,...near hysterical, hopelessly myopic. Scary words from ordinarily centrist Israelis...sane civic space in Israel is visibly imploding....and its is an unedifying to watch as the horror in Gaza
  • 10.
    Reckless Kerry,,,
    With an article like this one ,where are the real pacifists in Israel,where ?
  • # 1 LOL, There wouldn't be an Israel if she had 'pacifists.'
    All those former European "Passive Pacifists Jews are dead." Thanks to Europe and Israel aint going there and doing that again.. NEVER AGAIN!!
  • 9.
    Your articles
    interested to read what you have to say...may or may not be in agreement nevertheless
  • 8.
    Is there any other way to stop Hamas terrorism than doing it the hard way?
    Yes, it hurts the Gazans terribly to chop off their snake's head, but the disease Hamas is has to be cut off once and for all, even if the world sympathizes with the aggressor and delegitimizes Israel for defending herself against the Hamas dragon. Once this terrorizing beast has been crushed and given a deadly blow, a relative calm will follow and Israel can concentrate on the other terrorist org.s threatening her existence. There must be no mercy, that is cease fire, to Hamas. Else this cycle of warring will never end. That is most frustrating and enerving. So finish off Hamas at one blow FOR GOOD, so that Bilderberg politicians like Kerry too won't have an opportunity to sceam havoc (like giving Hamas a serious role and let it keep its rockets! Shocking!) bc it serves the USA's self-interests. Keep this on mind Israel: Kerry does politics that serves *only* the Bilderbergers' goals! So don't be pulled by the leg! THINK INDEPENDENTLY, Israel, and stop allowing the USA to destroy you more she already has been doing to you since 1977! Israel's existence namely does not serve the USA's self-interests nor the Bilderbergers' goals of the NWO! The USA contributes to complicating already chaotic situations in order to have Israel destroyed by the evil forces, she fortifies, like here: Hamas.
  • 7.
    Is there any other way to stop Hamas terrorism than doing it the hard way?
    Yes, it hurts the Gazans terribly to chop off their snake's head, but the disease Hamas is has to be cut off once and for all, even if the world sympathizes with the aggressor and delegitimizes Israel for defending herself against the Hamas dragon. Once this terrorizing beast has been crushed and given a deadly blow, a relative calm will follow and Israel can concentrate on the other terrorist org.s threatening her existence. There must be no mercy, that is cease fire, to Hamas. Else this cycle of warring will never end. That is most frustrating and enerving. So finish off Hamas at one blow FOR GOOD, so that Bilderberg politicians like Kerry too won't have an opportunity to sceam havoc (like giving Hamas a serious role and let it keep its rockets! Shocking!) bc it serves the USA's self-interests. Keep this on mind Israel: Kerry does politics that serves *only* the Bilderbergers' goals! So don't be pulled by the leg! THINK INDEPENDENTLY, Israel, and stop allowing the USA to destroy you more she already has been doing to you since 1977! Israel's existence namely does not serve the USA's self-interests nor the Bilderbergers' goals of the NWO! The USA contributes to complicating already chaotic situations in order to have Israel destroyed by the evil forces, she fortifies, like here: Hamas.
  • 6.
    whatever was wrong with Kerry
    Kerry wasn't able to overcome his disappointment and distaste for Netanyahu and seems to have acted on these feelings; or he suffers from PTSS after having seen too many pictures of dead children, there is no other reasonable explanation.
  • 5.
    It says it all that Bibi and Boogie are the "moderate wing" of this coalition.
    Basically, it means that everyone else is to the right of Ghengis Khan.
  • 4.
    how dare you insult secretary Kerry!
    what do you mean, Israel is showing restraint? True, it has not yet killed all the Palestinian.
  • 3.
    This is ridiculous
    When Netanyahu and ya'alon are the sound of reason in Israel, God help us all. And Kerry is not an employee of Israel to force upon him its point of view as if this war is waged by one party and Kerry should cater to it without understanding the other party in order to prevent future wars. If Kerry adopted the Egyptian proposal, it would have just kicking the can down the road. But if more comprehensive arrangement is made to ease Gaza blockade, all will claim victory and quiet will stay much longer. So Kerry is right and this analysis is poor.
  • 2.
    REASONABLE FOR WHO?
    What is “reasonable cease-fire”? Is it the same thing that a “significant diplomatc victory”? Give me a break.
  • 1.
    Does Ari Shavit have no shame?
    The US Secretary of State, absorbed in trying to save your ass, is to be blamed and vilified??? Are you kidding me??!!