Aluf Benn
Haaretz (Analysis)
January 11, 2009 - 1:00am

Resolution 1860 by the United Nations Security Council, which called for a cease-fire in Gaza, should be seen as an expression of the international community's discomfort about the continued fighting.

It does not dictate halting the Israeli operation nor does it demand the immediate pullout of Israel Defense Forces troops from the Strip before security arrangements are made to guarantee long-term stability.

But even if the decision bears no operative significance, it should stir concerns in Israel for three reasons. First, things are not going to get better. This is the international position, which identifies with the Palestinian suffering and ignores Gilad Shalit's fate and the suffering of the people in Israel's south.

Second, although Hamas is not mentioned in the resolution - which it has rejected - Khaled Meshal, Ismail Haniyeh and their friends have good reason to smile. Hamas' Gaza regime now enjoys the legitimacy afforded it by the Security Council, the international community's highest institution. That's because Resolution 1680 refers to a Hamas republic as a fait accompli.

The resolution does not demand that the Strip be returned to the Palestinian Authority, except in the call for a renewed settlement for the crossings, which will be based on the old agreement between Israel and the PA. Nor does the resolution call for disarming the militias and terrorist groups operating in the Gaza Strip.

Third, the process that led to the passing of the resolution points to Jerusalem's failure in handling the issue. Israel objected to having the war end in a Security Council resolution similar to the one that ended the Second Lebanon War. This is probably why Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni - who led those who oppose an agreement for fear it might legitimize Hamas - opted to stay at home instead of heading over to the UN headquarters in New York.

Israel made a similar mistake a few years ago, when it refused to appear before the International Court of Justice in the Hague when it reviewed the separation fence. And the problem with this decision is that he UN, like the justices in Hague, ruled without taking Israel's position into account.

A situation like this makes Israel dependent on the United States. But U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice supported the UN Resolution and assisted with its formulation. Livni was in contact with Rice in an attempt to soften its wording.

At the last minute, at 3:30 A.M., Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also intervened with a desperate phone call to President George W. Bush, requesting that the United States veto the resolution. Bush refused, simply instructing Rice to abstain from the vote.

One doesn't need to know all the details to realize that a late-night phone call between national leaders is the result of a major malfunction in the diplomatic handling of state matters, which reveals a problem in the relationship between Israel and the United States.

If it were not for Bush's friendship, the United States would have joined the supporters of Resolution 1860.


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