Global Insight: 'Ceasefire needed now - not truce'

Israel and main ally the United States need to pursue a ceasefire, not a humanitarian truce, in the conflict with Hamas, Prof Robert Patman says.

The international relations specialist says the current Israeli military campaign against the Palestinian terrorist organisation is not proving politically effective.

Prof Patman says the agreement to hold a four-day truce is unlikely to improve the long-term security of the Middle East nor enhance the international reputation of the US.

‘‘I think an immediate ceasefire is important,’’ Prof Patman told Global Insight.

A ceasefire will not give Hamas an advantage, he says.

‘‘Hamas doesn't care about the civilian population of the Palestinians. And they're the ones who are bearing the brunt of the current situation.’’

An Israeli soldier sits in a Humvee amid the ongoing ground operation of the Israeli army against...
An Israeli soldier sits in a Humvee amid the ongoing ground operation of the Israeli army against Hamas in the northern Gaza Strip on Wednesday. Photo: Reuters
But the Israeli offensive is playing in to the hands of Hamas politically.

‘‘We have to look at the politics of this. There is not a military solution to a political problem.’’

On top of that, the unconditional support of the US to Israel’s military operation in Gaza is hurting it internationally, Prof Patman says.

‘‘Many countries... have seen the United States to be quite one-sided about this situation.

‘‘It may feel that with the humanitarian truce it can undo some of the early damage that might have been done by being closely associated with [Israel Prime Minister] Mr Netanyahu’s massive bombardment of the Gaza Strip. I’m not sure that damage can be undone.’’

Prof Patman says the core political problem is the Palestinian desire for self-determination.

A ceasefire could be an important stepping stone towards that.

‘‘Coming up with a solution in which Israel can enjoy much greater security than it does at the moment. And the Palestinians, finally... can see a pathway towards.... their goal of political self-determination.’’

Prof Patman also discussed Israel’s right to self-defence, signs the US is concerned about the scale of Israel’s response to being attacked and his belief the New Zealand government should add its voice to calls for a ceasefire.