Is the Gaza War Creating a Chance for a Peace Settlement?

Prof. As’ad Abdul Rahman

The war on Gaza has apparently eliminated for good the assumption believed by many in the West that Israel truly desires to attain a political settlement based on international legality. As a result of the recent carnage in Gaza, it has become clear for all that the Israeli government, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has dedicated itself to obliterate the Palestinian peace camp and along with it the Israeli ‘peace movement’. Israel made impossible demands on the peace process which can never be met, besides continuing to create facts on the ground, colonizing and confiscating occupied Palestinian lands and expediting the Judaization of East Jerusalem to eradicate the very possibility of a two state-solution. Unfortunately 85% of the Israeli population, according to Israeli polls, supports their government’s carnage against civilians and little children in Gaza, while nurturing their children on hating Arabs and rejecting the notion of “the desired peace” which have dealt a fatal blow to a peaceful solution.

Yet, some Israeli writers and even leading politicians view things differently by calling upon their government to grab the opportunity provided by the war on Gaza to activate the peace process. Their hopes are up because they believe that President Obama may now use this war to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with his Secretary of State John Kerry calling on both sides to use this opportunity to move ahead towards much wider negotiations.

Some Israeli writers touched on future possibilities with an eye on a settlement after the Gaza war.  Amos Haril wrote in Haaretz that “many in the Israeli Army saw this time an opportunity to attain a new settlement in Gaza that has many good things for Israel”. Yossi Beilin wrote in Israel Today that “a truce deal should include the return to the table of negotiations with the PLO, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas and the negotiations should lead to an overall settlement. Without a political settlement, we will have to prepare for the next devastating military confrontation.”

Himi Shelif expressed a similar view: “The real problem for Israel in the near future will be with the international community who would use the weakness of Hamas and the great suffering of Gaza to enforce the position of Mahmud Abbas and break down the obstacles in his path. This is the price that Israel has to pay in the end which would also be demanded by the United States, the European Union and Israel’s (Arab) new found friends in the Middle East.”  “Assessments have already started by European governments”, he said, and “Secretary Kerry has not given up, in spite of being humiliated by Israel, to convince President Obama to do the hard work to drain the inflamed Israeli/Palestinian boil.” Ben Kasit sums it up by saying that “If Netanyahu really wanted peace in the Middle East, he would have accepted the Arab peace plan with some reservations, of course, but Netanyahu’s problem is that he wants Hamas to rule Gaza. He fears the possibility of Abbas replacing Hamas in Gaza, thus, becoming the only person representing the Palestinian people which will put great pressure on Netanyahu  to negotiate with Abbas to attain a final solution. Netanyahu wants to keep the status quo intact in Gaza to avoid a final settlement which is a fact he cannot refute, whatsoever.”

According to news reports, Israeli Minister of Justice, Tzipi Livni, is reportedly trying to convince Netanyahu to look for a political solution in Gaza with hints that may lead to an overall solution. She has said that “Besides ending the military operation in Gaza by a unilateral Israeli decision, the political process has to include several parties in this agreement consisting of the United States, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority and the United Nations along with major European countries to make sure the meal of a political solution is cooked well, but without Hamas. After the plan has been accepted by the parties, it should be presented to the UN Security Council to be approved as a solution to be followed on the grounds. This strategic plan will serve Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority.” Along similar lines, Jacob Perry, a member of the Israeli mini-cabinet (inner security cabinet) was very clear when he said: “We have to exit from this fiery war in Gaza with a political plan not only to end the siege, but to end for good the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and the Arab/Israeli conflict based upon the Arab peace plan.”

Despite the many painful facts on the ground in Gaza, the Palestinian steadfastness which greatly surprised the Israeli military,  the extreme abhorrence of the world’s  public opinion witnessing for 51 days the carnage targeting civilians and little children,  the inability of the Israeli infantry to advance on the grounds of Gaza and the humane demand of the Palestinians to end the siege, all  have created a real opportunity for the USA and the rest of the world to forge a just and fair political settlement in the Middle East. But would the American administration and the world take this opportunity that has emerged from long great sacrifices of the Palestinian people, to attain a final peaceful settlement that would really serve international security? We truly hope so.