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Brief # 133 Foreign Policy

 Cease Fire Agreement Between Hamas and Israel: What are Its Implications?

 By Reilly Fitzgerald

 May 21, 2021

Policy Summary:

Last week I wrote a USRENEW NEWS Brief regarding the on-going Israeli-Palestinian conflict with some thoughts on how the United States may respond. This Brief is a continuation of that updated with information from the past week, and focuses on a newly agreed upon cease fire agreement.

In the last week, the conflict between Israel and Palestine has escalated in several ways. The first being that the scale of violence from the Israeli military and government, towards the Palestinians, has increased dramatically. Initially, we saw clashes with police and rioters; and then, the Israelis started to drop bombs and target specific buildings – one building that was destroyed housed the Associated Press along with other journalists. According to various news sources, the Israelis targeted approximately 20 media outlets during their bombardment of Gaza. The bombing has killed over 200 people, and injured many others. Also, it is worth noting that the Hamas rockets being fired into Israel have killed more than 10 Israelis as well.

However today a  cease fire between Israel and Hamas was reached  this past Thursday brokered by Egypt. According to a New York Times article  the proposed peace plan, that accompanies the cease fire, will include actions such as Israel ending strategic attacks and bombardments on Palestinian critical infrastructure and ceasing their targeting of senior members of the Hamas organizations; while Palestine would also have to end the demonstrations along the Palestine-Israel border, end their long usage of digging tunnels into Israel, and also end their rocket attacks against Israeli citizens and property.

 

Analysis:

The White House’s response to this on-going conflict has been a markedly neutral response, calling for a cease-fire on both sides. The White House has issued support for Israel’s ability to defend itself, while also condemning Israel’s actions of expansion into Palestinian territory. The Biden administration has taken a less direct and less involved path forward than previous administrations have on issues similar to this; however, the Biden administration needs to be careful on how hands-off they want to be and the signal that is being sent around the globe by following such a course of action. President Biden has had phone calls with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu where he told the Israeli PM to prepare a significant “de-escalation”.

President Biden’s response to this situation has received some interesting commentary from domestic political opponents and allies. Conservatives and Republicans that are friendly toward Israel are calling on the President to do more to support Israel and their ability to fight back against Hamas (which many prominent Republican politicians refer to as a terrorist organization). Also, the President is being called on by Democrats to be more pro-Palestinian and more overtly anti-Israeli. The President is caught in a tough position domestically which has international implications based on who (or which side) he chooses to appease.

The White House has pledged to help both Israel and Palestine to recover from the violence in a manner that is similar to their neutral diplomatic response throughout the conflict. The United States should be careful as to how their fairly hands-off diplomatic role,  may look around the world as China has become a very loud critic of US foreign policy throughout this conflict.

Engagement  Resources:

  1. https://www.cfr.org/ – The Council on Foreign Relations is a think-tank that provides regular expert analysis of ongoing global events.
  2. https://pax.peaceagreements.org/ – Run by the University of Edinburgh as a tracker of global peace agreements and ceasefires. This is a great site for historical information regarding past peace agreements
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