Culture, Israel, Politics

Unilateral cease-fires from both sides

The fighting in Gaza has come to a halt as Israel declared a unilateral cease-fire, despite more rockets hitting Israeli territory after the cease-fire went into effect. Also, Hamas has declared a unilateral cease-fire, despite the fact that the blockade persists and Israeli troops remain in Gaza.
both cease-fire statements below, and some thoughts on unilateral activity.
A snippet from Olmert’s statements (sourced from BBC):

Beginning at 0200 [0000 GMT], Israel will cease its actions against the terrorist organisations in the Gaza Strip and will remain deployed in the Gaza Strip and its environs… If our enemies decide that the blows they have already suffered are not enough and they wish to continue fighting, Israel will be ready for that scenario and will feel free to continue responding with force.

And the full text of the Hamas statement (
also sourced from BBC):

In the Name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful. This is a statement in the name of the Palestinian resistance factions.
The Zionist aggression against the Gaza Strip which has gone on for more than three weeks has failed, and with God’s blessing it failed to impose its conditions on the resistance and on our people.
We, the Palestinian resistance factions announce a ceasefire of our factions in the Gaza Strip and we stress that our demand is the withdrawal of the enemy forces from the Gaza Strip within a week, along with the opening of all the crossings for the entry of humanitarian aid, food and other necessities for our people in the Gaza Strip.

You know, when Israel unilaterally declared itself a state in 1948, it didn’t turn out so well–massive war erupted and lasted for some time and set the tone for what would become one of the world’s most embroiled conflicts. And when Egypt unilaterally decided to nationalize the Suez Canal and cut off the waterway to Israeli trade, it didn’t turn out so well and resulted in Israel attacking Egypt in 1956. It also laid down the diplomatic relationship which allowed Israel to unilaterally pre-emptively strike Egypt in 1967, which of course laid down the relationship for the Arab nations to unilaterally pre-emptively attack Israel in 1973. And when Arafat unilaterally declared Palestinian statehood in 1988, that didn’t turn out so well for them, either. Nor did it go so well when Arik Sharon unilaterally showed signs of Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount, nor did it ultimately go so well when he unilaterally disengaged from Gaza, laying down the framework for the war that was just unilaterally ended.
All this unilateralism, no wonder everyone thinks there’s “no one to talk to”! It seems to me, looking back through the history of this conflict, that perhaps part of the problem all along has been everyone acting unilaterally, for their own interests, never stopping and trying to see how their actions and desires effect others. Until the Israelis and Palestinians can start to view the world through the others’ eyes, I fear more unilateralist policy and politic, leading to more unilateral war–which, ironically, leads to collective destruction.

5 thoughts on “Unilateral cease-fires from both sides

  1. 1) Did Israel unilaterally declare itself a state in 1947? I could be wrong, but I thought it was May 1948, and that a number of other countries immediately recognized it? Are you talking about the 1947 UN resolution? Some other event?
    2) “Arab nations to unilaterally pre-emptively attack Israel in 1973”
    How do a combination of nations attack “unilaterally”? Would that be the opposite of unilateralism? Or perhaps Israel should have attacked itself then?
    Other than that, and ignoring the obvious smugness of the tone of your post, nevermind the simplicity of it, one can agree that unilateralism is very bad – which of course is why Israel should have continued there assault on Hamas in Gaza until a bilateral – or better yet, multilateral – ceasefire, or even peace agreement came to be. That way they wouldn’t be accused of the crime that is even worse than war – unilateral ceasing fire.

  2. Jason-
    Thanks for pointing out the ’47 error, that was honestly a typo. In my mind, regarding this context especially, unilateralism is not engaging the enemy in serious diplomacy before resorting to one’s own plans and interests. The wikipedia def is: “Unilateralism is any doctrine or agenda that supports one-sided action. Such action may be in disregard for other parties, or as an expression of a commitment toward a direction which other parties may find agreeable.”
    Seeing both parties issue unilateral cease fires made me reflect on the various military disputes and realized for the first time really that, from both sides, there is a pattern of unilateralism.

  3. I agree. But we’re also in the current reality we found ourselves in. Israel can say, c’mon Hamas, let’s both declare a unified cease-fire, but one in which you accept our right to exist in safety, and Hamas can refuse or laugh in Israel’s face, or call them occupiers of 1948 Palestine. We’re then faced with the decision of continuing to actively fight (in an active war type scenario that we’ve seen the last 3 weeks), or take the very imperfect (some say even counterproductive) unilateral step to stop fighting. Coupled with negotiations for a longer-term cease fire with Hamas (and again, this should include what the sides are essentially asking for – that is the opening of the crossings, but that the crossings are closely monitored by international monitors and the smuggling of weapons is prevented), and renewed negotations with Fatah for the platform of a permanent peace agreement, it’s a positive step.
    My point is simply is that unilaterlism is better than doing nothing sometimes, especially in a situation where sometimes the two opposing sides are so fundamentally apart that they simply don’t recognize each other’s legitimacy.
    That said, I still don’t know if I feel a unilateral cease-fire is the right move strategically in this situation.

  4. “which of course laid down the relationship for the Arab nations to unilaterally pre-emptively attack Israel in 1973” — Use of the word “pre-emptively” generally means initiating hostilities against a country which is about to initiate hostilities against you. In the case of 1973, I don’t believe the record supports an imminent Israeli attack against any of the arab nations. Which probably explains why Israel was surprised by the the Egyptian/Syrian attack and got its ass whupped the first 48 hours of the war. Israel’s 1967 pre-emptive attack is not analagous to the Arab’s 1973 attack on Israel.

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