Sunday 19 May 2024

Geoffrey Aronson, an expert on Middle East affairs, writing in Responsible Statecraft May 16

The article is herehere.

According to an opinion poll in Gaza conducted in whispers two thirds of people in Gaza want an end to the war. I'd have expected more. “If elections were held tomorrow, Hamas right now has the support of about a third of Palestinians in the West Bank, and third of Palestinians in Gaza. This is less than what it was before October 7,” according to Khalil Shikaki, who was in charge of conducting the poll“A lot of people who do not support Hamas, actually support the resistance and support the decision to carry out the [October 7] attack for various reasons. Most importantly, because this is was a momentous event that changed the entire universe for Palestinians.” Israeli policy today evolved in the aftermath of the 1967 war and was best described by its architect, Moshe Dayan. The challenge for Israel and the international community, he explained in 1977, was not to arrive at a “solution” to Israel’s occupation, but rather to learn to live without one (solution). Only in this way could Israel retain the freedom of action to ensure its strategic security — no Arab sovereignty west of the Jordan — and nationalist settlement objectives.

The West Bank settler population at that time was less than 15,000. Throughout the decades since 1967, and in Gaza today, Israel, eschewing master plans for achieving its overriding objectives, has exhibited a maddeningly opportunistic approach to its rule over the West Bank, which among other achievements now boasts more than one half million settlers. ...Israel today is waging three intimately related wars. The first is the actual battlefield war itself, now in its eighth month. The second war is the war about the war — that is, the international battle for public opinion from The Hague to American college campuses that has been unleashed by the war itself. This battle promises to define Israel’s place in the international community for a generation, and attests to the price we all pay for the enduring failure of diplomacy and politicians to establish a viable reconciliation of Israeli and Palestinian demands.

The third is the war after the war — that is, the ongoing military campaign led by Hamas against Israel’s intention to remain in security control of the entire Gaza Strip. Gaza is no stranger to such Palestinian insurgencies, whether in the early 1970s, during the first Intifada in 1988, or during the Oslo decade.

The Biden White House is ever so ready to pronounce the prospect of such conflict as evidence of a failure of Israeli plans for Gaza. Blinken has warned that unless Israel takes unspecified actions “they will be left holding the bag on an enduring insurgency.”

Blinken may be undone by such a prospect, but neither Netanyahu nor Sinwar are deterred. For each, the battle is understood as the price one must be prepared to pay to prevail in a war that began not on October 7, but in 1948.

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