Hamas’s Claims of Moderation Are an Old Ploy

While Hamas watches international institutions accuse Israel of imaginary war crimes and world opinion condemn Israel for a successful strike on Hamas operatives, some of its spokesmen are suggesting that it is considering moderating its goals. Neomi Neumann and Matthew Levitt explain that such rhetoric is entirely disingenuous:

Within a month of the [October 7] attack, the Hamas Shura Council member Khalil al-Hayya . . . floated the idea of a truce with Israel that could last five years or more based on the pre-1967 ceasefire lines, envisioning a unified Palestinian government that includes Hamas and governs both the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Last month, the senior Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh proposed restructuring the PLO to include all Palestinian factions.

Yet, Neumann and Levitt argue, these statements don’t really contradict other statements by Hamas leaders that it will “repeat the October 7 attacks, time and again, until Israel is annihilated.”

Hamas has a long history of hinting at moderation as a means of gaining international support so it can continue “resistance” through political means.

Hamas was and will remain a “liberation” movement with a cohesive identity, which includes a national component that defines its goal (a state) and a religious component that defines both its borders (“between the river and the sea”) and character (Islamist). . . . Hamas’s post-October 7 situation will not change its policy, which is a function of the group’s fundamental identity and purpose and thus inflexible. Hamas’s statements about a Palestinian state are an attempt to demonstrate pragmatism without changing its basic conceptual framework.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy