Israel and Palestine

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Articles on Israel after 2017
Hoping for a three-state solution
Articles on Israel before 2015

  • (April 2015)

    Hoping for a three-state solution.

    It is still hard to believe that it truly happened. In june 2014 three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped in the West Bank (repeat: in the West Bank). Within 24 hours the police and the government of Benjamin Netanyahu knew that the three kids were dead. Nonetheless Netanyahu unleashed a colossal search to find them... in the Gaza strip. He immediately blamed Hamas, Netanyahu's arch-enemy, despite the fact that the Hamas leadership, far from boasting about it, repeatedly denied having any knowledge of the kidnapping and murder: hardly a claim of responsibility. Following the hysteria caused by Netanyahu on national media, some Israelis kidnapped and burned alive a Palestinian teenager, Mohammed Abu Khedair. Needless to say, the manhunt following this murder was not even remotely comparable to the manhunt following the murder of the Israeli teenagers. For what it is worth, the murder of the three Israeli teenagers was probably a revenge killing for the killing the month before of two Palestinian teenagers by the Israeli border police near Ramallah in the West Bank. All the trouble happened outside Gaza, but Netanyahu singled out Gaza, the Palestinian enclave controlled by Hamas, as the source of the trouble. He kept arresting and killing people in Gaza until Hamas responded in kind (or, better, with very crude rockets that have no chance of seriously harming Israelis). Then Netanyahu launched a massive military operation in Gaza that killed 2,200 people, flattened thousands of homes and destroyed hundreds of businesses. The world was appalled by the catastrophic damage caused by the Israelis on one of the poorest people in the world. Even his own Israeli citizens had little doubt that Netanyahu was prompted more by domestic politics than by the desire to exact justice in this Gaza adventure, with elections coming up in Israel and many social issues on the table.
    Now a group of 60 Israeli soldiers has come forward via the human-rights group Breaking the Silence to explain how that could have happened under the very language of Israeli law. Israeli law has been twisted since at least 1956 to allow the state and the military to legally massacre Palestinians. The goal is not genocide, a word that should never be used lightly, but it is certainly ethnic cleansing. Palestinians have been confined to small isolated regions that are the equivalent of the "Indian reservations" of the USA. The borders that the tourist sees on international maps showing a unified West Bank are purely imaginary. Travel around the West Bank and you will realize that the West Bank is a collection of Palestinian enclaves separated by Israeli settlements or Israeli armed forces. Gaza is a particular case. It is indeed a uniformly Palestinian region, but it packs 1.8 million people in a small territory. Since all five border posts (4 with Israel and 1 with Egypt) were sealed, these people had no place to go when Israel attacked by land and by air. Any military operation in such a densely population area, made even denser by Israel's expansion of its buffer zone by 40%, will inevitably kill a lot of innocents. Israel argued that it warned civilians of bombings and raids, but those warnings were mostly useless. First of all, many people were trapped in areas where there was no safe harbor, and secondly the warnings themselves were inadequate if not contradictory, sending people to buildings that were later bombed (even United Nations schools). Basically, no shelter was immune from attack. All of this, however, is perfectly legal under Israeli law, which has its own definition of what a "civilian" is and of what qualifies as "civilian infrastructure". Those definitions are tuned to maximize damage. By the same token, Israeli law has its own interpretation of "proportionality", that makes it perfectly legal to kill 2,200 people in revenge for the killing of 3. Hence 51 days of fairly indiscriminate massacres, and to "find" three boys who were known to be dead.
    Israel's justification for attacking Hamas (as well as Hezbollah in Lebanon) has always been that they are "terrorists" because they target civilians. Israel, that kills many more Palestinian civilians than Hamas kills Israeli civilians, denies the status of state to Gaza but then expects Gaza to abide by the international laws by which states like Israel, whose existence is protected by the United Nations and by the world's superpower, must abide. Surprisingly, very few Israeli citizens have ever noticed the contradiction: either Hamas is the legitimate ruler of a state in Gaza, in which case Israel should recognize Hamas and respect it, or it is not, in which case Hamas is perfectly right in ignoring international law that applies to states. That law applies to Israel, not to Hamas. Noura Erakat has debunked Israel's talking points in this article. (Annoyingly, Israel also repeats the old mantra that anyone criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic, which is like me telling you that if you criticize me then you are racist against Italian-Americans).
    For those who forgot, Hamas was founded in 1973 as a nonpolitical movement called Islamic Association whose mission was spiritual, not military. Only in 1987 it became Hamas, with a military wing (and still mainly a humanitarian and social enterprise). And the first suicide bomber from Hamas came only in 1994. In between there was increasing repression of the people of Gaza by Israel, especially after 1991 (after the Palestinians made the mistake of siding with Saddam Hussein in the Gulf War against the USA and its Arab allies). In 2006 Hamas won free and fair elections in the Palestinian territories, elections whose result Israel has never recognized because Hamas does not recognize the right of Israel to rule that region of the world (just like Israel does not recognize the right of the Palestinians to rule that region of the world). The more Israel has trapped and enslaved the Palestinians of Gaza the more of them it has had to kill. It is estimated that by 2020 the situation in Gaza will be intolerable: Palestinians will start dying, either quietly of diseases and malnutrition or violently in a new "intifada". This is viewed by all observers as inevitable.
    Therefore one ending to this story is that there will be a much bigger uprising in the Palestinian territories. Israel will probably kill thousands of them, but this time it may take much longer, and much more destruction, to convince a people condemned to death that they have to accept that sentence.
    The second outcome is what is whispered in Egypt. There are strong rumours that Israel and Hamas are actually negotiating directly under the auspices of the new military government of Egypt. If this is true, the second possible outcome of this situation would be a three-state solution: independence for Gaza under Hamas in return for Hamas' recognition of Israel's right to exist, and independence for the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority, which is already recognized by most countries in the world.
    See also What Netanyahu and Putin have in common

    TM, ®, Copyright © 2015 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.
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  • Articles on Israel before 2015

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TM, ®, Copyright © 2015 Piero Scaruffi All rights reserved.