OPINIONS

Tue 16 Apr 2024 6:47 pm - Jerusalem Time

Israel-Palestine: The End Game

The end game of the war in Gaza is not the final attack on Rafah.  The end game is not the dismantlement or killing of the last four standing brigades of Hamas. The end game is not even bringing home all 133 Israeli hostages, dead or alive; however; there is no end game without bringing home the hostages. There is also no end game leaving Hamas with the ability to govern and control Gaza and to threaten Israel. There is no end game with Hamas or anyone else in Gazan having the capabilities to continue to shoot rockets at Israel.  There is also no end game that leaves Israeli troops in Gaza or leaves Israel in control of Gaza. To put is plain, there is no military end game to this war. The only end game is political and not military. While this is an axiom, It is also 100% clear that the current government of Israel is not capable nor willing to develop a political end game which is why this government of Israel is so dangerous to the future of Israel and to the entire region.

 

The only genuine end game to the war in Gaza is ensuring that the two states solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is fulfilled. There are those who claim that this is. Prize to Hamas for their attack against Israel on October 7, 2023. This is as much a prize to Hamas as it is to Itamar Ben Gvir. The real end game is when the extremists in our conflict are defeated and they no longer threaten the majority of people in this land who want to live a peaceful life. The end game is the state of mind that is not controlled by the messianic and dangerous fantasies of the extreme religious right wing Jews in Israel or by the dangerous messianic fantasies of Yehya Sinwar and his crowd and their delusional final promise of the world under their distorted version of Islam without any others, including other Muslims who reject that perverted view of Islam.

 

Yes, the war in Gaza must end. The war must end without Israel attacking Rafah and killing tens of thousands of more Palestinians. The war must end with displaced Palestinians being allowed to return to their homes even though most of those homes no longer exist. Gaza must be demilitarized and must be rebuilt. The demilitarization of Gaza and the reconstruction of Gaza can only be done under Palestinian leadership. That is why Palestinians must present new leadership which is viewed as legitimate and also willing to engage with Israel and the rest of the world to lead to the end game of two states. The Palestinian people must understand that there can be no armed struggle anymore against Israel. What happened in Gaza must be the vivid definitive picture of why there is no armed struggle. A new Palestinian leadership needs to emerge that will be able to say: Yes, the Jewish people have always had a connection to the Land of Israel and they have the right to be here. But the Jewish people must also understand that they were never here in this Land alone. There were always others in the land, and today those others are the Palestinians. We Israelis must be able to say that the others in this land, the Palestinians, have the same right to self-determination that the Jewish people have.

 

In order to reach that new reality, the Arab leaders in the region need to talk with the current Palestinian Authority leadership and convince them that it is the time for a new generation of leaders to emerge. With all respect to President Abbas, he has been one of the leaders of the Palestinian people for too many years and he has failed (with the great assistance of Israel) to lead Palestine to independence and peace.  He must step aside and allow others to lead. But the Arab leaders need to be direct with the Palestinian people and tell them categorically that the armed struggle must also be left on the side forever. There will be no Arab support for Palestine if they continue with armed resistance. The only future for Palestine must be a future of reconciliation with Israel. The regional alliance which was demonstrated with the recent Iranian attack against Israel provides Israel’s Arab neighbors and the United States with significant political leverage on Israel and it must be used. The Israeli government will resist, and therefore; the Arab countries need to speak directly to the people of Israel and not to its irresponsible and dangerous government.

 

Israelis must engage with Palestinian leaders of the new generation who may gain legitimacy from their people. This begins with Marwan Barghouthi. Whether Israelis like it not, even if Marwan Barghoughti led the second intifada and is responsible for the death of Israelis, he is a potential Palestinian leader who might be the person to change the course and lead Palestinians to independence and peace. Israel needs to be talking with him – even in prison, he will get the message. The Israeli political leadership should be the people talking with Barghouthi, but they will not. Instead of entering into a constructive conversation with him about the future of Palestine and Israel, the Israeli Prison Authority of Ben Gvir is torturing Barghouthi in prison. He has been beaten since the beginning of the war; he is in solitary confinement in very bad conditions. These actions against Barghouthi are criminal and the direct responsibility of the Government of Israel led by Itamar Ben Gvir – who himself, a convicted terrorist, is someone who should be in prison.

 

Israel needs to be talking with the exiled Palestinian leader Mohammed Dahlan who is living in Abu Dhabi and who is directly responsible for much of the aid that has entered Gaza since the beginning of the war. Dahlan is from Khan Yunis. He was a classmate of YehyaSinwar and he knows how to deal with Hamas. I know for a fact that Dahlan is a person who is prepared to make a dignified peace with Israel. He is someone who believes that the Palestinian story needs to change from resistance to state building. He has learned a lot in his years in Abu Dhabi as one of the closest people in that country to its leaders President Mohammed bin Zayed. At this point, it is unlikely that Dahlan will return to Palestine, but even if he does not, he has great potential influence on what could happen here.  He should be encouraged to return.

 

Israel needs to be talking to Dr. Nasser elQidwa, another Palestinian leader in exile, living most of the time in France. Dr. Nasser’s big “crime” was that in the elections that were supposed to be held in May 2021 he joined forces with Marwan Barghouthi’s people with the support of Barghouthi and headed the list that challenged the list of President Abbas. Nasser elQidwa is the nephew of Yasser Arafat and he served as the President of the Yasser Arafat Foundation, which he was fired from by President Abbas. Dr. Nasser was the PLO representative in the United Nations from 1987 until 2005. He is a doctor of dentistry but an expert in international law. He does not support the armed struggle and believes in the two states solution. Dr. Nasser is from Gaza and two years ago he went back to Gaza to open the home of Yasser Arafat from which he worked meeting Gazan leaders from all of the factions. 

 

The combination of people like Barghouthi, Dahlan, and el-Qidwa could form an alliance which is dedicated to the stabilization of Gaza. They could have the legitimacy to enlist the military support of several Arab countries to send peace keeping troops to Gaza, predicated on full Israeli withdrawal from Gaza. They would be committed to the full demilitarization of Gaza and the West Bank and to the reconstruction of Gaza. They would be seen as legitimate by the international community to lead the reconstruction project for Gaza. They could also rule the West Bank until elections could be held in Gaza and the West Bank and they are the people who could represent Palestine in negotiations with Israel in a regional framework. There are others who could also be part of this new alliance of Palestinian leaders who want to lead Palestine to independence and peace with Israel. 

 

I believe that the regional countries led by those with peace treaties with Israel should convene an international regional conference to advance the two-states solution. It should be attended perhaps by the Foreign Ministers of the countries involved. It is unlikely that Netanyahu would agree to send his Foreign Minister and if he attended, he would not be helpful in advancing the two-states solution. It is also difficult to determine who should represent the Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza at such a meeting at this time. Perhaps the countries of the region should convene without Israel and Palestine being represented. Alternatively, Israel and Palestine could be represented by influential un-officials who might be in the position of leadership in the foreseeable future. In addition to putting a plan for the full endgame on the table, the meeting would call for all 193 Member States of the United Nations to immediately recognize both the State of Palestine and the State of Israel. It is important that there is demonstrable proof that the two-states solution is real and not another 30 years of empty talk. 

 

The challenge that we face is that the government of Israel refuses to confront any kind of political end game. It intends to continue to control Gaza which is the surest guarantee of armed insurgency against Israeli soldiers and the surest way to empower Hamas and other extremists. Israeli citizens, the large majority of who want the Government of Israel to resign and for us to go to snap elections need to take to the streets in much larger numbers. The Government of Israel has sacrificed too many of the hostages – Israeli citizens who were not protected by their State on October 7. The Israeli government is dangerous and we the people, must bring it down.  There is no time to wait. 

 

 

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Israel-Palestine: The End Game

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