Sunday 19 May 2024

Palestine is an insoluble problem: foreign countries' attempts to bring peace only make things worse

People tell me that Hamas has to be destroyed but it obviously can't be by military means, unless the entire Arab population is expelled from Gaza. 

(Even then that leaves Hamas units and supporters in the West Bank. They make up one third of the Arab population there.)

That is my issue with what Israel is doing. 

But I wonder whether the IDF is even trying to destroy Hamas. 

To do so would mean entering all the tunnels and the loss of very many Israeli soldiers. 

Instead the numbers of Israeli dead are few and the numbers of Arab fighters who have been killed, provided by the Israelis, are I assume vastly exaggerated.

An article in the [London] Times says that, 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.”

This compares with a poll in March that showed "only seven percent of Gazans blamed Hamas for their suffering. Seventy-one percent of all Palestinians supported Hamas’s decision to attack Israel on October 7 — up 14 points among Gazans and down 11 points among West Bank Palestinians compared to three months ago. Fifty-nine percent of all Palestinians thought Hamas should rule Gaza, and 70 percent were satisfied with the role Hamas has played during the war."

Netanyahu never wanted an agreement with the Arabs, which is why he built up and did all he could to help Hamas against moderate Palestinians. 

Hamas guaranteed that a two state solution would never happen.

Beverley Milton-Edwards, co-authoress of a book about to come out called HAMAS, wrote a well-informed article in the Times a week ago. It had some interesting information, such as "In 2018 [Hamas leader] Sinwar even wrote, in Hebrew, to Binyamin Netanyahu offering to cut a deal over Gaza if the Israeli prime minister would sign up to a long-term truce with Hamas. Netanyahu didn’t even bother to reply." 

She thinks that the Gazan figure for the numbers of dead, although provided by the Hamas controlled Ministry of Health, is probably an underestimate, which sounds likely to me. 

She writes, "Hamas has always had the power to regenerate and recruit the next generation of fighters ready to take on the Israeli enemy. As Sheikh Yassin once told me — behind every martyr are a thousand others ready for the battle."

She concludes that Hamas is winning by not having been defeated. 

As a rule it's best not to get news of foreign affairs from Western newspapers or the BBC which trot out the American deep state line. 

A much better place is Responsible Statecraft which has published a very good article by Geoffrey Aronson. I quote from it as follows.

"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."

Of the three wars he lists the most important one is the second, the battle for hearts and minds of young university graduates in the West, which I think Israel will lose. 

Instead of making world Jews safer Israel is making them less safe.

It is a huge mistake to think this war, if that is the right word for the killing, is about the gathering conflict between what we could call Christendom or the Western world and (elements of) Islam.

It is not. 

It's a tribal conflict with no universal significance, except that the destruction of Israel, if it ever happens, would be seen as and therefore would be a calamitous defeat for the West. 

But that won't happen without a nuclear war and possibly a world war. 

Netanyahu knows that Hamas cannot be defeated in the Gaza Strip unless the Arab population is deported, something some members of his cabinet say they want. Probably the whole cabinet would like it, if they could get away with it.

Not even Canada or the European Union,  however, has been stupid enough to offer to take them, so the fighting will continue. 

If Hamas is lucky, Israel will stay in Gaza for a long time and lose a lot of soldiers. 

The war that started in the 1920s will continue. 

People who think it started on October 7, 2024 should read history.

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