Redacted from Israel Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Newsletter
Netanyahu: There is a realignment of forces in the Middle East based on the common concern with the dangers posed by radical Islamic terrorists. I’d like to translate this understanding into cooperation and peace between Israel and our Palestinian neighbors.
Upon the establishment of the ceasefire, I can say that there is a major military achievement here, as well as a major diplomatic achievement for the State of Israel. Hamas was hit hard and it did not receive even a single one of the conditions that it set for a ceasefire, not even one. As Prime Minister of Israel, I hold the supreme responsibility for the security of Israel’s citizens and this is what guided my colleagues – Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Benny Gantz – and I during each stage of Operation Protective Edge. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the cooperation and the joint work for the security of Israel’s citizens.
From the first moment we set a clear goal: The goal was to strike hard at Hamas and the terrorist organizations and in so doing bring prolonged quiet to all Israeli citizens. I can say that Hamas was indeed hit very hard. First of all, we destroyed the network of attack tunnels that it built over the years. I would like to make it clear that we introduced the ground force for this goal. When the mission was completed, when the IDF reported to us that this mission had been completed, we pulled the force back in order to deny Hamas the possibility of killing our soldiers or abducting them, goals that it very much aspired to.
We continued to attack from the air. Approximately 1,000 terrorists were killed, including senior terrorists, very senior terrorists from among its top command. We destroyed thousands of rockets, rocket launchers, rocket production facilities and other weapons, arsenals, command and control positions, hundreds of command positions, hundreds. We also foiled, of course, attempts by Hamas to attack us by land, sea and air. Above all, thanks to Iron Dome, we foiled hundreds of attempts by Hamas to kill very many Israeli civilians. This was achieved, inter alia, thanks to a decision I made as Prime Minister, in my previous term, to equip the State of Israel with thousands of interceptors which, of course, blocked the murderous aerial assault by Hamas and the other terrorist organizations.
The blow that Hamas has now taken is unprecedented since it was founded, a very hard blow. I must say that it also took a diplomatic hit. See, Hamas set conditions at the outset for a ceasefire. We accepted the Egyptian initiative for a ceasefire, already in the first days, unconditionally and without time constraints whereas Hamas set conditions. It demanded a seaport – it did not get one. It demanded an airport, it did not get one. It demanded the release of the Shalit prisoners, those who were released in the Shalit deal whom we returned to prison following the murder of the three youths, it did not get this. It demanded Qatari mediation, it did not get it. It demanded Turkish mediation, it did not get it. It did not receive any condition. It demanded further conditions. It demanded the rehabilitation of the institutions that we dissolved in Judea and Samaria, it did not get this. It demanded salaries and money from us, it didn’t get them. I t did not receive any of the conditions that it set.
We agreed at the outset to one thing – to carry out the humanitarian rehabilitation of the Gaza Strip, with supervisory mechanisms and oversight abilities in our hands. This is in order to prevent the entry of weapons or materials that could be used to produce weapons. We have always agreed to this but we did not agree to accept any of Hamas’s conditions and the fact is that this ceasefire was achieved without the conditions that it set.
II Frustration Grows in Israel Over Outcome of Gaza Conflict
Redacted from article By JOSHUA MITNICK
Wall Street Journal Aug. 30, 2014
TEL AVIV—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces frustration over how the conflict with Hamas is winding down — both from the Israeli public and from parties that wanted harsher action against Gaza’s Islamist rulers.
Two political parties that take a harder line on Palestinians than Mr. Netanyahu’s Likud faction saw an upswing in support in a new poll published Friday in the Israeli daily Maariv. The survey also found 58% of Israeli Jews believe it was a mistake for the government to accept an open-ended cease-fire with Hamas this week, while 61% don’t think the prime minister achieved his goal of prolonged quiet.
“I think that there is a general atmosphere of disappointment after 50 days of war, 72 victims, billions of shekels lost, we are back at square one,” said Likud parliament member Danny Danon, a leading critic who Mr. Netanyahu fired as deputy defense minister early on in the conflict. “You cannot ignore the fact that it’s problematic.”
Mr. Danon has called for a meeting of Likud’s central committee within two weeks to discuss the results of the Gaza conflict and he predicted that the prime minister will face stiff criticism over his handling of it.
Mr. Netanyahu’s governing coalition, formed after elections in 2013, has always been potentially unstable because of ideological disputes between the main partners.
But the rising criticism from right-wing allies within the government could force the prime minister into calling early elections that may produce a government with an even tougher line against concessions to the Palestinians. It could also lead him to break up the current coalition in favor of another combination of parties.
Sam Lehman-Wilzig, a political-science professor at Bar Ilan University in Israel, said Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to pull troops out of Gaza after a ground offensive has highlighted how much of his party is more hawkish than he is.
Mr. Netanyahu declared in a news conference on Wednesday that Israel had delivered a crushing blow to Hamas in the offensive dubbed “Operation Protective Edge” and that Hamas got no concessions. He said calls by rival politicians to reoccupy Gaza for an all-out defeat of Hamas were “populist” and “unrealistic,” adding that eviscerating the group is “very difficult.”
Hard-line Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman cautioned in a Facebook post on the same day as Mr. Netanyahu’s news conference that upcoming cease-fire talks wouldn’t boost Israeli security because “it’s impossible to reach an arrangement with Hamas.” Mr. Lieberman, another critic of Mr. Netanyahu’s handling of the conflict, was one of those who called for a re-occupation of Gaza.
“I think Netanyahu needs a protective edge internally with the rest of his party,” Mr. Lehman-Wilzig said. “More and more people are realizing he’s out of sync with views on national security.”
The poll commissioned by Maariv showed rising popular support for two parties more hawkish than Likud based on a gauge of how many seats the those parties would get in the 120-member parliament if new elections were held now.
One of them was Jewish Home, the pro-settler party of Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, who was another frequent critic of Mr. Netanyahu during the war. It got 18 seats, up from the 12 it actually received in the last election. Yisrael Beiteinu, headed by Mr. Lieberman, got 17, up from 11. Likud also gained, up to 32 from 20 in the poll conducted on Wednesday night after Mr. Netanyahu spoke.
Another poll published Thursday in the Haaretz daily found a similar rise in support for Mr. Bennet’s party but no gains for Mr. Lieberman’s party. That poll indicated that the public considers the Israel-Hamas conflict a draw and showed declining public approval of Mr. Netanyahu. His approval rating fell to 50% from 77% in a poll on Aug. 5, at the height of Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza. The poll surveyed 464 Israelis on Aug. 27 and had a margin of error of 4.64%.
“If they start shooting in six months, I would say Netanyahu is dead meat, said Mr. Lehman-Wilzig.