Daily Israel Report

While the US 'Reviews,' EU Calls for Disarming Hamas

American vacillation over demands to disarm terrorist groups in Gaza contrasts with Europe's surprising support of Israeli position.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 8/18/2014, 11:55 AM

Hamas terrorists parade rocket
Hamas terrorists parade rocket
Flash 90

Though the United States is still Israel's "best friend," it is the European Union which called again today for ''all terrorist groups in Gaza to disarm."

The EU statement, issued in Brussels after a meeting of EU Foreign Ministers on Friday, declared that a "return to the status quo prior to the latest conflict is not an option."  

Israel is pleased with the EU's call for disarming Hamas. Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, "Israel welcomes the [EU] ministers' repeated calls for the terrorist organizations in Gaza to disarm."

"A commitment to the principle of demilitarization, which will be implemented by an effective monitoring mechanism, will ensure that the situation changes fundamentally," Palmor added.

On the other hand, the two top US Administration officials - President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry – have made it clear that disarming Gaza is not a priority. Asked if the Obama Administration endorses the Israeli demand to disarm Hamas, a top National Security official said only that "one would hope" that "some form of demilitarization" would be a result of a ceasefire. And Kerry didn't even go that far; all he said was, "All of the issues of Gaza would be on the table."

The Senate, on the other hand, has been outspoken about the need to disarm Hamas. It has not passed any formal resolutions to this effect, but many Senators have gone on record in favor of making this an integral feature of any ceasefire.

On Thursday, the day before the EU statement, US State Department Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf spent several long minutes attempting to reconcile the Administration's "review" of munitions deliveries to Israel and the "no change" in the general policy towards Israel. Specifically, she said, "Given the crisis in Gaza, it’s natural that agencies take additional care to review deliveries as part of an interagency process. That is by no means unusual and, again, does not indicate any change in policy."

She then said this was not actually a "review," but rather "taking a second look."

Challenged as to the purpose of a "second look" if there was no policy change, she again called it a review, then later changed it to "looking again," etc.

Back and forth the point was belabored; one reporter asked, "If you’re undertaking a review with a lowercase ‘r’, or a second look or – again, whatever you want to call it – that that would stand to reason that perhaps at the end of that look that you might make some kind of policy change."

Harf negated this, and so on and so forth, until finally one impatient correspondent asked, "Can we go to Ukraine, please?"