The Israeli-Gaza Conflict: Where will it go?

DATELINE LONDON November 24, 2012

Photo belongs to CNN

 

As this is written in London, the cease-fire between Gaza and Israel is still holding after a couple of days, but it remains a fragile truce. There is the hope that perhaps it might lead towards a larger peace agreement and negotiations and finally toward a final settlement. The bloodshed that took place was without any reason and the cost to all was considerable.

 

Yet the alternative scenario which some believe is still possible is for a further breakdown and more escalated conflict with the possibility of a land invasion of the Gaza Strip by Israel.  This could again lead to disaster for all including the future security of Israel itself as it becomes more and more isolated by its disproportionate reaction. 

 

Further, the new Egyptian government that helped to mediate the cease-fire might be forced to be a negative power rather than a moderating one.  There could likely be even greater unfortunate consequences for the region that is already on the brink of chaos. 

 

Hamas, despite staging demonstrations in the Gaza street after the cease-fire saying that they “won,” paid a terrible price of over 100 of its citizens dying, widespread destruction of its infrastructure, and disruption of its commerce. Worse may come unless Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority, and Israel all recognize that they are all at the tip of an abyss from which they will not likely return to security or a decent future for their citizens.

 

Some here are suggesting that one reason behind Israel’s action is the coming Israel election for which Netanyahu wants to show his “toughness.” There are even suggestions that he wants to use his military force if it is violated or the negotiations become a press for requirements to permit Gaza to have more outside access from beyond its borders that are now severely restricted by Israel. The question of the clandestine shipment of rockets into Gaza via tunnels on the Egyptian border is understandably a braking point for any agreement on the Israeli side.

 

 

There has also been added speculation here in London about the ultimate strategy of Netanyahu of whether his aim is to both punish Hamas and weaken Abbas and drive the Palestinians from the West Bank and even Gaza, and above all, dismantle the idea of a “two state” deal.  Otherwise why would he not go into negotiations with a firm long-term cease-fire in place?

 

Prime Minister Netanyahu seems, in my opinion, to ignore the larger tragically changing Middle East strategic landscape. The proof of this reality in the current conflict is the many short range and medium range missiles which have been reaching almost to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. But beyond that is the total impact of the Arab Spring that presented Israel both with new opportunities for peace and possible new challenges to its long-term security.

 

The decision will need to be made by Israel to make concessions, especially on settlements, and for the Palestinians to make concessions on recognition, for both on division of Jerusalem, and for joint security guarantees.  Here, the US, the EU, and Egypt and some Arab states can play a constructive part.      

 

President Obama has dispatched Secretary Clinton to the Middle East and there is some hope with the help of Egypt and some EU countries like the UK which also have its Foreign Secretary visiting the region. The question all are asking is whether this tragic conflict might lead towards a greater understanding that the next step forward is to initiate a process that leads towards a long-term peaceful solution of the outstanding key issues.

2 thoughts on “The Israeli-Gaza Conflict: Where will it go?

  1. Harry Blaney December 4, 2012 / 9:30 PM

    Bob Lamoree has asked the key question whether we see a Israel-Palestinian peace treaty and he questioned the role that the US might play.

    In a strange way as Henry Kissinger, my old boss, once said it needs to get worse before we can make it better, or words to that effect. The Middle East is changing daily and the trend is not favorable to Israel. The stupidity of the present right-wing government of Israel can’t be underestimated even in the face of rapid loss of its security and ability to influence events in the region.

    I would bet that America under the Obama administration will return to the region and make a major effort to bring peace in his second term. Most of my “expert” friends think the contrary. The alignment of forces and the tendency of seeing conflict after conflict follow each other and the possible spread of the arc of unrest and the increase of strategic vulnerability of Israel, which the recent Gaza situation is but an early sign, may force Israel to seek some kind of accommodation with not only the Palestinians but with its neighbors in the region.

    This my not take place at once, since Prime Minister Netanyahu seems from some reports to be bent on the destruction of the two state solution and appears to want to bring his people into constant conflict to further his political ambitions. This can only lead to Israel finding itself in the most dangerous position of its history, exacerbated by its illegal and reckless added settlements on the West Bank and not taking the opportunity to deal now with a partner willing to seek a deal that all sides know is the only one that is on offer and will be fair to all sides.

    Having said this, against all reasonable evidence, an historic opportunity might still present itself because I can see a final awaking either of the political leaders of Israel or its citizens finally realizing their increasingly impossible position and seeing that their right-wing policies are leading towards disaster. If they continue to build new settlements their hope for peace will be dashed and the next generation will find themselves being the next “Gaza” of the Middle East.

    Here Obama and other allied powers could be the last hope of both sides for a fair and peaceful solution. Any such solution I believe must bring with it security guarantees to both sides and must be lasting and firm and supported by the international community.

  2. Robert Lamoree November 30, 2012 / 11:08 AM

    If history repeats itself, as it seems to do, the Israeli Palestinian situation will see a peace treaty, breaking of the treaty, more deaths, more hate, and no permanent solution. Our role (the U.S.) will for better or (often) worse to side with Israel, making an even-handed solution even more unreachable.
    Questions: Is it likely, or possible, that the two sides, left to their own devices, might be come to a peace agreement? If Palestine were to become a truly sovereign nation, would that make peace more or less likely? Is sixty odd years of pent up hate and frustration too much for any peace treaty to succeed? Will, or can, the “Arab Spring” change anything? If so, will the change be for the better, or the worse?
    My crystal ball is foggy. But if I were a betting man, I would bet that history will keep repeating itself, and a permanent Israeii-Palestinian peace is but a very distant hope.

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