Domestic Politics Affects Gaza Negotiations
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
As if bringing the parties to accept at least a humanitarian ceasefire was not difficult enough, it now appears that the entire process is getting all wrapped up in American politics. Time was when foreign policy issues transcended domestic politics, but like so much of Washington even international crisis decision-making is becoming sullied by partisanship.
It was not embarrassing enough for the Obama Administration that it was losing credibility as a functional mediator between the Israelis and the Palestinians, but now John Kerry himself appears to have lost his own personal credibility as a diplomat in the Gaza War because of his apparent siding—at least initially—with the Turkish and Qatari proposal. That proposal was different from what Egypt had proposed and Israel appeared to have accepted. This waffling about now placed the U.S.—from the Israeli perspective– outside the ring of plausible negotiators. While Kerry appeared on Monday at the State Department to have turned around again, neither side was likely or ready to move to a ceasefire.
According to a number of analysts, the President and Bibi;s personal clashes are now affecting the negotiations as both leaders are calculating American political consequences into their calculus. The animus between the two leaders has contaminated geo-political considerations. The President is miffed at how the U.S. Secretary of State is being treated. The Israelis are furious at the demands being placed on them—not Hamas—for being insensitive to humanitarian considerations in Gaza.
Israel is also totally perplexed by the fact that the U.S. appears to have adopted a position in trying to obtain a ceasefire that runs counter not only to Israel’s best interest, but is a position supported by other American allies in the region: Saudi Arabia, Jordan, the Emirates and Egypt. Suddenly, America’s best friends in the region are Turkey and Qatar who are the major funders of Hamas. The Obama team is permitting Hamas’ allies to dictate the terms rather than demanding that Hamas comply with the terms as presented by Egypt.
It is extremely pathetic as people are dying on both sides and there continues to be political posturing between two long-standing friends.