Saturday 22 June 2024

Former British Ambassador to Israel Asks Has Hamas Won?


Sir Tom Phillips, former British Ambassador to Israel and Saudi Arabia, wrote an article which is very insightful and still as topical as when published in Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz on April 9, 2024. I quote from it.

Has Hamas Won?

'Hamas has flipped the script of a militarily invincible Israel and exposed the fragility of its international support, prompting hard questions about its long-term sustainability. It is up to the West, moderate Arab states, Israel and the Palestinian Authority to deny them any kind of final victory

'It's possible that Israel's ongoing military campaign in Gaza will eventually eliminate Hamas's military leadership there, either by killing figures such as Yahya Sinwar and others or forcing them into exile. But it is equally arguable that Hamas has already won the first round in the struggle sparked by its appalling October 7 attack.

'Hamas's goals – or at least those of the Hamas Gaza leadership – in launching the October 7 assault are still not clear, other than as a demonstration of their annihilistic antisemitic ideology. But they presumably had as a minimum objective obtaining the release of as many Palestinians held in Israeli prisons as possible, and of re-asserting themselves as a force to be reckoned with, including by demonstrating the inefficacy of Fatah and the Ramallah leadership – the latter of course already seen by many Palestinians as a bunch of corrupt collaborators.

'On both fronts, Hamas has already succeeded, perhaps particularly because those Palestinians already exchanged for some of the Israeli hostages taken by Hamas on October 7 have returned to homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, not to Gaza.

'Hamas has also already demonstrated that it is a force to be reckoned with, merely by surviving the IDF onslaught for longer than any war Israel has ever fought. In doing so, they have thoroughly dented Israel's much vaunted deterrent status. In brief, and with daunting potential long-term consequences for Israel, the IDF no longer looks invincible.

'Whether they meant to or not, Hamas has also been successful at the regional level. They have at least for the moment created an effective roadblock in in the way of Saudi-Israeli normalization, and raised the price Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will feel he needs to exact from Israel for such a deal to go down with his own population, and the "Arab street."

'...[Israel] seems likely to be trapped back into an explicit – rather than the previously implicit – occupation of Gaza. Given the fundamental irreconcilability between the "one-state" space which is de facto being created between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, and the dream of a demographically-sound Jewish state driven as that vision is by centuries which sadly proved Jews were not safe elsewhere, the future looks decidedly challenging.

'Some Israeli hardliners may dream of resolving this dilemma by expelling, or somehow "encouraging," the movement of millions of Palestinians to Egypt and Jordan. But even if such a possibility were realistic, it would lead to the destabilization of the Hashemite Kingdom to Israel's major strategic disadvantage, and would cause a possibly unhealable breach in Israeli-Egyptian relations given the inevitable Egyptian opposition to any such move.'

I recommend Ha'aretz for telling you what is going in without the British government propaganda of which the British media is full - the extent of which is described in detail here. The CIA meanwhile is doing the same thing.

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