Michael Oren: Says the price of the ceasefire with Hamas may be war





... The Egyptian-brokered cease-fire yields Hamas greater benefits than it might have obtained in direct negotiations. In exchange for giving its word to halt rocket attacks and weapons smuggling, Hamas receives the right to monitor the main border crossings into Gaza and to enforce a truce in the West Bank, where Fatah retains formal control.

If quiet is maintained, then Israel will be required to accept a cease-fire in the West Bank as well. The blockade will be incrementally lifted while Cpl. Shalit remains in captivity. Hamas can regroup and rearm.

The Olmert government will have to go vast lengths to portray this arrangement as anything other than a strategic and moral defeat. Hamas initiated a vicious war against Israel, destroyed and disrupted myriad Israeli lives, and has been rewarded with economic salvation and international prestige.

Tellingly, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who once declared Hamas illegal, will soon travel to Gaza for reconciliation talks. Mr. Abbas's move signifies the degree to which Hamas, with Israel's help, now dominates Palestinian politics. It testifies, moreover, to another Iranian triumph.

As the primary sponsor of Hamas, Iran is the cease-fire's ultimate beneficiary. Having already surrounded Israel on three of its borders -- Gaza, Lebanon, Syria -- Iran is poised to penetrate the West Bank. By activating these fronts, Tehran can divert attention from its nuclear program and block any diplomatic effort.

The advocates of peace between Israelis and Palestinians should recognize that fact when applauding quiet at any price. The cost of this truce may well be war.

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