Daily Israel Report

MKs Split Over Cease-Fire with Hamas

Truce highlights deeply divided views on Israel and Hamas; leftist MKs insist the truce should mark the resumption of peace talks.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 7/15/2014, 9:31 AM / Last Update: 7/15/2014, 10:25 AM

Binyamin Netanyahu at cabinet session
Binyamin Netanyahu at cabinet session
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The Security Cabinet agreed to a cease-fire mediated by Egypt Tuesday morning, in a move seen as highly controversial after Hamas rejected the terms of the deal over and over again

Meanwhile, several ministers are outraged over the Cabinet decision, fuming that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has "folded" to Hamas terror. 

"We were willing to pay a heavy price to complete the most significant achievements yet against Hamas," Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) stated Tuesday morning. "There is no cosmetic facelift to a mistake like this." 

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) stated just before the agreement earlier Tuesday that the arrangement would be a major blow to Israel's security and political standing. 

"I am against a cease-fire," Katz said. "Under the circumstances, we can do a lot better." 

'We have not removed the threat of rocket fire completely, and we have not eliminated the Hamas elite," he continued. "If we were successful [in this], the world would give us a standing ovation." 

"No one has any doubts that it's only a matter of time before they return to firing missiles on Israel," Housing and Construction Minister Uri Ariel Jewish Home) stated. "We need to crush the serpent's head and let it rest - and there is no doubt that the residents of Israel will regret the lack of political ability to take on such a courageous decision." 

"The Cabinet decision is bad for Israel," Deputy Education Minister Avi Wortzman (Likud) added. "The ministers' decision constitutes a weak protest against Likud and Yisrael Beytenu." 

"It is sad to see those who have high words but take weak actions," he continued. "A cease-fire today will bring another war tomorrow." 

Security through peace talks?

Several leftist ministers and MKs, however, welcomed the cease-fire as the first step toward resuming peace talks. 

"If the government does not know to translate the ceasefire into a means of reshaping Israel's political foundations, it will be meaningless, and will result in more escalation and another conflict," Opposition Leader Yitzhak Herzog (Labor) stated Tuesday.

"Unfortunately, Netanyahu will not use years of silence to bring about an agreement [with the Palestinians], and it's time we stop with the endless loops of conflict; we must understand that the only solution to preserve Israel's political security is a peace agreement." 

Other leftist MKs jumped on the "peace talks" bandwagon as well. 

"This is a good and logical completion of a successful operation," MK Shelly Yechimovich (Labor) stated in the truce's wake. "The IDF and Israeli society demonstrated resilience, strength, and cohesion."

"Netanyahu showed composure, spirit, and responsibility in this operation, and was good to counter the threats and demands of [Economics Minister Naftali] Bennett and [Foreign Minister Avigdor] Liberman," she continued. Bennett and Liberman were the only two ministers to reportedly reject the cease-fire.

"Now, after demonstrating Israel's power, is the time to return to the negotiating table with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and strive for a two-state agreement."

Others are convinced that the truce is an indication that Netanyahu's policies are changing. 

"[Netanyahu] made the decision to stop the operation from the understanding that there is nothing like the elimination of potential terrorist infrastructure through force," Meretz Chairman Zehava Gal-On insisted. "He has currently forced Hamas to honor its agreements."

"Along with the ceasefire, the Israeli government must create economic incentives, and introduce moderate political elements, to prevent rocket fire from Gaza in the future," she continued, echoing 'conditions' set by Hamas terrorists themselves. "The framework should include lifting the blockade on Gaza and providing more humanitarian relief, as well as opening the Rafah crossing."