Israel May Be Right, But Not Wise
Jonathan Freedland at the Guardian has good analysis of what’s happening in Gaza. Israel has great war tactic, but not such good ones for peace. Each side believes it has the high moral ground, but getting bogged down in who is right and who is wrong won’t solve the crisis. Israel thinks it can teach the Palestinians a lesson and then get them to agree to some kind of pact to avoid further conflict.
First, even if Israel gets the quiet it wants there is every reason to believe it could have got that without resorting to war. The longtime Palestinian analyst and negotiator Hussein Agha says it would have been “straightforward: if they had lifted the blockade, the rockets would have stopped.”
Some diplomatic sources dispute this, arguing that Hamas actually saw an advantage in the sanctions regime: “opening up would have loosened Hamas’ grip,” says one. Hence the cases of Hamas firing on border crossings as they were opened. But most Palestinians insist that a relaxation of the blockade would have granted Hamas its key objective – a chance to prove it can govern effectively – and it would not have jeopardised that with rocket fire. It would have had too much to lose.
But Israel may not have wanted to give Hamas a chance to govern, thus granting it legitimacy. But any ceasefire will likely involve easing the blockade, anyway. Too bad it couldn’t have been done earlier and possibly avoided all-out war.
Second, if Israel hoped to break Hamas’ hold on Gaza it has gone precisely the wrong way about it. Its leaders have done this many times before, repeatedly misreading the way Arab societies work. They believe that if they hit Gaza (or Lebanon) hard enough, the local population will blame Hamas (or Hezbollah) for bringing tragedy upon them. But it doesn’t work like that. Instead, Gazans blame Israel – and close ranks with Hamas.
Another point Freedland make is that Israel needs relationships with moderate Arab leaders, but those leaders have been damaged politically by Israel’s moves which empowers hardliners over moderates in the eyes of many Palestinians.
And this is without mentioning the fresh supply of hatred Israel has stored up against itself, creating a new generation of Gazans bent on revenge. Every child who witnessed this week’s bombing is another recruit for the violence of the future.
A peace strategy would include ending settlement expansion and making moderates like Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas credible in the eyes of his people. Force is not the answer. It is not the quickest way to the desired result. In fact, it may prevent that result from ever taking place.Click here for reuse options!
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