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Former IDF General Says Hamas Fight 'Did Expose Some Tension' in U.S. Relations


Media reports from Israel have cited senior Israeli officials criticizing Secretary of State John Kerry’s ceasefire proposal for “completely capitulating” to the demands of Hamas.

Washington Institute for Near East Policy Executive Director Robert Satloff said that Washington’s relative sidelining in the ceasefire talks emphasized the fact that “it would be really important for the U.S. to turn a page from recent events, to take on, to revisit the question of what are our priorities in this part of the world.”

He said U.S. policy in the region is too “reactive” and would benefit from “an active posture,” particularly one that is “very well coordinated” between the White House and the State Department.

Former U.S. special envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross suggested that the U.S. should again take a more active role and support measures that would change the dynamic between Israelis and Palestinians and make a long-term agreement possible.

“One of the things we can count on, and it’s understandable, is that there is going to be a push diplomatically to see what we can do with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” Ross said.

President Obama’s comments recent comments, in which he looked beyond the ceasefire toward a more comprehensive resolution in Gaza, seemed to reinforce the possibility of such a scenario.

Ross delineated possible steps that the U.S. could take to create a more hospitable climate through conflict management, rather than resolution, in an environment of intense mutual distrust between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, while still undermining Hamas. He said the U.S. should recognize the new strategic alignment between Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, all of which have real interests in supporting the Palestinian Authority and weakening Hamas.

“Our approach towards Hamas should not be to somehow recognize them as a player we have to deal with,” he said, adding that the U.S. should work to discredit the group over time.

Washington should persuade Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make sure Israel’s settlement policy reflects its commitment to a two-state solution, Ross said, and increase its efforts to rebuild Gaza in the near future and orchestrate a “Marshall Plan for Gaza” in the long-term to be implemented after Hamas is disarmed.

“All of these things could make a difference from a Palestinian standpoint and demonstrate that something material is changing on the ground for them,” he said.