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FAA flight ban undercut US-Israel trust

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The US said that Iron Dome made it safe for Israel ?to withdraw from the West Bank. The US undermined its position by banning flights to Israel due to a single rocket.

Rarely have we seen a diplomatic move so poorly thought out. We refer to the short US ban on American flights to Ben Gurion Airport.

Of course, the ban was not cast as a diplomatic move at all, only a safety measure. Against the supposed unsafe Ben Gurion Airport, Aeroflot, British Airways, El Al and other carriers continued to fly in and out of Ben Gurion without incident. The US lifted its ban some 36 hours later, on Thursday, July 23.

This ban seemed to be a ploy to pressure Israel into a ceasefire (despite the repeated rejections thereof by Hamas) or into a reduction in the ferocity of its war against Hamas. After all, this type of ban was not applied to airports in all other troubled parts of the world. The US could not easily pressure Israel openly once the US said openly, and repeatedly, that Israel has a right to defend itself against missiles fired onto its cities, towns, villages and farms, and against tunnels dug under its kibbutzim and towns.

Read related news coverage, "Bloomberg snubs FAA flight ban"

Whatever its origin, this ban backfired badly. It certainly seemed to Israel that its airport was safe, given all the people and airlines that continued to use it. It certainly seemed that this ban — not extended consistently to all other troubled airports — was a backdoor way to send a message to Israel. This ban seemed punitive, not substantive, and rightly angered Israel’s leadership because it achieved Hamas’ major goal: communicating to the world that Israel is an unsafe place, just like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Ukraine. Thus, if there were not already sufficient justification for Israel to reject the Kerry-proposed ceasefire two days later, July 25 — a ceasefire that would financially and politically reward Hamas’ terrorism but not meet even one of Israel’s goals, such as the demilitarization of Gaza — Israel couldn’t trust it.

And even all this is not the major blunder. Sec. of State John Kerry spent roughy a year trying to convince Israel to withdraw all of its military forces from the West Bank, including along the Jordan River, because, after all, Iron Dome made the West Bank safe no matter how dreadfully a two-state solution might fail. Forget, for a moment, that no sane government can sign up for a plan that presumes the possibility of the regular firing of missiles upon its cities. The flight ban undermined Kerry’s argument in one fell swoop. A single missile led the US to conclude that Ben Gurion Airport was unsafe from Gaza. Obviously, Israel would be unsafe from the much closer, immediately adjacent West Bank.

Whoever came up with this ban was neither thinking strategically nor acting consistently.

The lugubrious conclusion here is that Israel has no choice but to destroy Hamas’ weapons — its missiles, its launchers, its mortars, its tunnels — once and for all.

Copyright © 2014 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Last Updated ( Thursday, 31 July 2014 11:34 )  

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