If Only Israel Had a Partner

January 17th, 2009

Before I begin, let’s all agree on this: the current conflict in Gaza between Israel and Hamas is stupid.

As with all wars, this conflict could have and should have been avoided. We should not be seeing terrible images of blown up buildings, mangled bodies and the up to the minute counts of Palestinians killed. There should not be Israeli tanks and combat troops going house to house for militants and weapon caches in Gaza. Every rational human being on this planet cringes with horror when they read that innocent civilians, especially children, have been killed in the conflict.

This war could have been avoided if Israel had an honest and legitimate Palestinian partner to make peace with. Today, if Israel wanted to sit down and talk about a peace plan with the Palestinians, who would they call? Which person or organization among the Palestinian people has the legitimacy and credibility to accurately and truthfully speak on their behalf? The big problem is that there is no such organization or person. As long as there is this standoff between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank, a permanent and lasting peace with Israel will never occur.

This conflict in Gaza was perpetuated by the leadership and organizational entity of Hamas. This is not a war directed at the Palestinian people. This is not a war against a two state solution. Israel did not respond militarily because they want to reoccupy the Gaza Strip. This is not a war against any progress toward peace that has been made over the last eight, ten, twenty years. Hamas’s policies and actions are entirely and completely responsible for the destruction and suffering that is occurring.

It is in the vacuum of weak and ineffective political parties and organizations that Hamas has attained influence and gained political power. In the 2006 Palestinian elections, Hamas campaigned on the themes of rooting out corruption and advocating a more effective and orderly government. Hamas was seen as THE viable political alternative to the corrupt and ineffective Fatah party. The problem was, and still is, that unless Hamas changes its basic political ideology, they will never be seen by the United States, European Union, Canada, Japan, and Israel as an organization that can be a partner in peace. If Hamas cannot be seen as a partner in peace, then they can never serve the best interest of the Palestinian people.

Hamas refuses to accept the existence of the state of Israel. Hamas uses both political and violent means, including terrorism, to pursue the goal of establishing an Islamic Palestinian state in place of Israel. In an interview in 2006, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said the following, “I dream of hanging a huge map of the world on the wall at my Gaza home which does not show Israel on it.” Zahar continued that the dream “will become real one day. I’m certain of this because there is no place for the state of Israel on this land.”

There is no Palestinian organization that Israel can actively work with to peacefully defuse the threat of Hamas. Hamas has refused to renounce violence, refused to recognize Israel and refused to stop launching rockets into southern Israel. Under these conditions, Israel has no choice but to take all necessary means to ensure their citizens’ security.

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2 Responses to “If Only Israel Had a Partner”

  1. Kevin |

    What can Israel do tomorrow, next week, next month or next year to prevent the flow of arms into Gaza that it couldn’t have done yesterday, last week, last month or last year – and thus avoided having to shed innocent blood in the first place?

    While you are pondering that, consider this: If you were living under a punitive economic blockade that sought to restrict not just the flow of arms but also a wide array of consumer goods, medicines, fuels, etc…, (y’know… to punish you for having voted the wrong way) what would you feel like you had to lose by throwing your support behind a militant group?

    How has China been drawn into embracing the world? Through punitive economic blockades or through engaging them in a rich economic trade which dramatically raised the cost to the individual Chinese citizen of lending political support to anything which might interfere with thier newly raised standard of living?

    I submit that Israel absolutely shares responsibility for having created this Gaza conflict by throwing away the carrot and relying totally on the stick. People living in deprivation simply have less to lose by acting irrationally.

    And that leaves aside the question of the sincerity of Israel’s commitment to peace while continueing to expand West Bank settlements on land seized from Palestinians – many of whom have relatives in Gaza.

    If you had a property line dispute with a neighbor and while the court case was being drawn out, that neighbor was carving out bits and pieces of the disputed area and submitting updated court filings showing those seized areas as no longer part of the dispute… You would be okay with that? You would consider that an honest commitment to peacefully resolving the dispute?

  2. Tom |

    In every negotiation, there must be at least two willing parties who are ready to make a deal, provided they can reach an outcome that’s above their bottom line. Sometimes bottom lines are difficult to figure out, but not so in this case.

    The Palestinians are sworn to the destruction of Israel, no matter how long it takes or what they have to do to make it happen. Many, many millions of the 300 or so million people in the Middle East and many other people in other parts of the world agree with them and support them. This bottom line has been made crystal clear over and over again since before Israel actually existed.

    Israel’s bottom line is equally clear. This little country of 7 million, the only democracy in the region, intends to survive.

    So, what’s to negotiate?

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