Hakeem Jeffries, With a Pause in Gaza Close, Crystallizes Opposition to a Ceasefire

Minority leader in the House emerges as a strong voice in respect of Israel as it seeks to end Hamas’s capacity to rule in Gaza.

AP/Mariam Zuhaib
The House minority leader, Hakeem Jeffries, on Capitol Hill, November 15, 2023. AP/Mariam Zuhaib

While demands for a ceasefire in Gaza grow and a pause in the fighting is being reported as close, the House minority leader, Hakeem Jeffries, is issuing a succinct rebuttal: Hamas cannot be trusted to abide by any agreement it makes.

The Biden Administration has reached a tentative agreement between Israel and Hamas for a five-day pause, the Washington Post is reporting. In exchange, Hamas would “free at least some of the hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza.”

Expect those in favor of a ceasefire to urge that the pause be made permanent or even call for it to make it harder for Israel to resume its mission, with the loudest calls coming from President Biden’s own party.

A Maryland Democrat, Jamin “Jamie” Raskin, called on Friday for “a mutually agreed-upon bilateral humanitarian pause or mutually agreed-upon ceasefire to provide for a ‘global humanitarian surge’ of aid to hundreds of thousands of displaced and suffering innocent civilians throughout Gaza.”

Mr. Raskin joined two-dozen House Democrats — including fellow Jewish members, Congresswomen Sara Jacobs of California and Becca Balint of Vermont — who seek a ceasefire to halt Israel’s efforts to root out Hamas.

The pause may achieve enough of the goals laid out by Mr. Raskin to satisfy the ceasefire group, but if it leads to leaving Hamas intact as the governing body in Gaza, it will only doom the district to more violence.

Hamas would be free to recoup its losses, resume indoctrinating its people with hatred for their Jewish neighbors, and strike again at a time and place of its choosing. Mr. Jeffries laid out why this would be folly on MSNBC Wednesday.

“Israel has to be able to decisively defeat Hamas,” Mr. Jeffries said, “this brutal terrorist organization. You can’t have a ceasefire if there’s no legitimate negotiating partner on the other side of the conflict — and Hamas is not a legitimate negotiating partner.”

That is as true today as it was on May 13, 2023, when the State Department heralded “a ceasefire to bring an end to the hostilities in Israel and Gaza.” That “end,” of course, was only a pause. It lasted less than five months, until Hamas broke it on October 7.

The State Department wrote that the ceasefire in May would “prevent the further loss of civilian lives.” Like Imperial Japan, which was negotiating with America even as its planes headed for Pearl Harbor, Hamas was talking peace and preparing for war.

May’s is only the most recent ceasefire Hamas has cast aside. It’s why Mr. Jeffries said they “have to be decisively defeated for the good of Israel, for the good of the Palestinian people in Gaza and throughout the region, for the good of the Free World.”

This point is not often made. It’s a failure in messaging that allows the terrorists to keep the world’s focus on Israel as the cause of misery in Gaza, ignoring the plight of its dead and kidnapped.

“We also have to make sure,” Mr. Jeffries said, “that we do everything possible to bring the hostages home safely” and “surge humanitarian assistance to the Palestinian civilians who are in harm’s way.”

These goals will be achieved if the pause works, but what will it mean for Gazans if the pause is made permanent? Hamas is not a government anyone would wish to have. It prevents at gunpoint civilians from evacuating and builds tunnels for war rather than shelters from bombs. 

The pause may alleviate suffering in the short term, but a ceasefire with Hamas would be the equivalent of leaving the enemy in control of Germany, a genocidal regime free to poison the next generation for war.

Repeating the mistake of previous ceasefires will only prolong the suffering of civilians in Gaza while leaving Israelis to live with a knife at their throats. People may try to call that “peace” on paper, but it won’t be a legitimate definition so long as Hamas is in control on the ground.

The New York Sun

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