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Israel and Palestinians: architects of their own destruction

By Alon Ben-Meir - posted Friday, 22 May 2020


Hamas' leadership knows that Israel is a formidable military power, and no matter how many rockets they accumulate they will be defeated soundly should they ever pose a real danger to Israel. Israel, however, also knows that Hamas in Gaza is there to stay, with frequent violent flare-ups and the terrible cost that Israel must bear to maintain security. Former Mossad chief Efraim Halevy stated that "Hamas can be crushed…[but] the price of crushing Hamas is a price that Israel would prefer not to pay." Their choice is clear: maintain the status quo with the Israeli blockade in place from which the Palestinians in Gaza suffer the most, or reach a peace agreement that will free Israel from the heavy burden and Hamas' continuing threats that unsettle many Israelis.

The complete lack of trust between the PA, Hamas, and Israel, and the existence of radicals in all three camps who still want to have it all, makes it imperative to establish a mutually agreed upon security apparatus that addresses Israel's security in the West Bank in particular. This is indeed a prerequisite to any peace agreement, which the PA must agree to if they want an independent state of their own.

This includes extensive joint patrolling of the Jordan Valley to prevent infiltration of weapons and radicals from Jordan who oppose any agreement with Israel regardless of its nature, sharing intelligence to avert terrorist attacks, and establishing joint economic development projects. These and other joint programs will over time foster trust which is conspicuously lacking, as well as instill vested interests by both sides to maintain a collaborative and mutually gainful relationship.

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Regardless of the violence and regional instability that may ensue, the new Israeli government is planning to embark on further annexation of Palestinian land by the beginning of July-while Trump is still in office and Israel can count on his support. For Trump, such a move by Israel, which is a central part of Trump's "deal of the century", will further enhance his political standing in the eyes of the evangelicals, whose support he must have if he stands any chance of winning the next election.

The Palestinians, on the other hand, have no real backers. Much of the international community, including their traditional supporters, the Arab states and the EU, are preoccupied with domestic and regional issues of major concerns. They are paying little or no attention to the Palestinian problem, and with the absence of a major power which can exert real pressure, Israel will not change its plans as long as the US continues to lend its full support.

If Israel proceeds with its plans of annexation and the Palestinians continue to hold onto their dead-end position, the result is all but certain. Continuing and escalating violent conflict will rob the Palestinians of a state of their own for the foreseeable future, which will exact a heavy toll on Israel while making it a pariah state that lives by the gun.

Time is of the essence; both sides must carefully reevaluate their positions before it is too late.

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About the Author

Dr. Alon Ben-Meir is a professor of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at NYU. He teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle Eastern studies.

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Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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