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    Israel and the
    Islamic Jihad
    militant group in
    the Gaza Strip
    agreed to an
    ceasefire, seeking
    to halt five days of
    intense fighting. The text reads as follows: “In
    light of the agreement of the Palestinian and
    the Israeli side, Egypt announces a ceasefire
    between the Palestinian and the Israeli sides has
    been reached. The two sides will abide by the
    ceasefire which will include an end to targeting
    civilians, house demolitions, and an end to
    targeting individuals immediately, when the
    ceasefire goes into effect”.
    When a treaty is signed between two parties
    is there a Halachic obligation to keep your
    side of the agreement, or is it just a temporary
    agreement meant to give us quiet until we see
    it fit to break for any interest which we might
    Let’s dwell into some of the treaties found in
    Tanach between the Jewish Nation and the
    gentiles to learn about this topic. There are
    several treaties that can teach us the extent of
    how far we need to go in order to keep our
    words, and on the other hand when may we
    break the treaty.
    Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer (chapter 37) brings few

    treaties of the Avot:
    Avraham Avinu made a treaty with the
    Yevusites when he needed them. In return they
    asked for a treaty that when the Nation of Israel
    would concur the land of Canaan they would
    not take possession of the cities of Yevus. What
    did the men of Yevus do? They made images
    of copper, and set them up in the street of the
    city, and wrote upon them the covenant of the
    oath of Abraham. When the Israelites came to
    the land of Canaan, they wished to enter the
    city of the Yevusites, but they were not able
    to enter, because of the sign of the covenant of
    Abraham’s oath.
    When King David reigned he wished to enter
    the city of Yevus, but they didn’t allow him
    because of the covenant.
    At the time of Yehoshua, the people of Givon
    heard that which Yehoshua did to Jericho and
    Aiy, and they decided to enter a treaty with the
    Jewish people under false representations and
    circumstances. They made themselves appear
    like messengers that had traveled from a far
    land taking with them worn-out saddles for
    their donkeys and tattered leather canteens for
    their wine, with cracks and patches over them.
    They wore ragged shoes containing different
    color, worn-out garments.
    The Jewish people believed the Givonites and
    the leaders of the congregation swore to them.

    Three days after the peace treaty was made
    the Jewish people discovered the true origin of
    their “peace partners”, and that they were not
    from a distant land at all, but from very close—
    from within Israel! This posed a problem as the
    Jewish nation at the time were not supposed
    to accept anyone from the nearby neighboring
    nations. The Gemara (א,מו גיטין (explains that the
    Jewish people had the right to kill the Givonites
    because they misled them, which means that the
    treaty is invalid. Still, the Jews kept their word
    for the sake of Kiddush Hashem.
    Another treaty was after Yaakov left his father
    in-law Lavan’s house and Lavan chased after
    him. After an exchange of words between
    them, they proposed a treaty, and raised a stone
    monument as witness to the treaty. The treaty
    between them was that Yaakov’s children would
    not take possession of the land of Edom, while
    Lavan’s children will not cross the monument
    towards the land of Yaakov.
    From those examples and many more, we learn
    that whenever the Jewish people make a treaty
    with other nations it must be kept. Therefore
    a ceasefire should be respected once agreed
    upon. The reason for protecting the treaty is
    either because of the obligation to keep our
    word צדק שלך הין, or because of Chilul Hashem,
    as we learn from this last incident. But we also
    find that whenever an agreement is broken by
    others, we aren’t obligated to keep it anymore.

    We mentioned above the treaty between Yaakov
    and Lavan. Chazal say that Bilam violated the
    treaty when he went passing that monument in
    order to curse our nation.
    The Midrash (ג דברים תנחומא (‘tells us that
    in King David’s time, our nation wanted to
    fight a war against Aram, but the people of
    Aram reminded them of Lavan and Yaakov’s
    treaty. They also mentioned that they are the
    descendants of Lavan. Then King David rose
    before the Sanhedrin and explained that Bilaam
    (who was also from Aram) had already violated
    and broke the treaty, and therefore they didn’t
    have an obligation to keep it. Immediately,
    the Sanhedrin declared a war and the army of
    David conquered Aram’s land.
    From the above we learn that whenever we
    agree to ceasefire we must keep our words and
    promises; but as soon as the other side violates
    it, we aren’t obligated to keep it any more.
    Needless to say, the terrorists have a long
    history of breaking promises, and the ceasefire
    that was agreed upon is usually not binding in
    any way or form. Thus, if the Jewish people see
    fit to continue the fight in any way or start a new
    war, they have the right to do so.