1. Western governments do not seem to understand the word ‘terrorism’. Israel has killed more than 1,000 Palestinians – the vast majority of them women, children and other civilians. Hamas has killed 46 Israelis – almost all of them soldiers, and yet for Western governments, it is Hamas who are the ‘terrorists’.
2. The US, and its allies such as the UK, have squandered any influence they had in the region by their relentless, unquestioning support for Israel. Now the Palestinians take no notice of them because they are simply part of the enemy keeping them in servitude, and the Israelis take no notice because they know however badly they behave, the West will do nothing.
3. Understandably, would-be peacemakers are focused on just stopping the fighting. And, heaven knows that would be nice, but if the causes are not addressed – Israel’s blockade of Gaza, its illegal occupation of the West Bank and its constant theft of Palestinian land – then any ceasefire will just be an interval and war will soon be resumed.
4. The Israelis are not interested in any such settlement, particularly with American dollars and weapons pouring in. ‘Mowing the lawn’ (that’s what Israel calls its regular attacks on Gaza) is very popular. After all, it allows Israel to steal a bit more Palestinian land every day, extending its empire and making the prospect of a Palestinian state a little more impossible every day.
5. However attractive it may appear in the short term, this does not represent a viable long-term strategy for Israel. It is making the neighbours who surround it hate it more and more, while its cruel oppression of another people is corroding its own sense of right and wrong, and increasingly infecting its politics with racism and extremism. The window of opportunity for Israel to make an equitable, peaceful settlement with the Palestinians may be shorter than it realises. When empires collapse, it often happens surprisingly quickly.
www.haaretz.com shows some people in Israel are thinking about these issues.