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Making this Israeli­-Palestinian War the Last

Context:

All conflicts eventually come to an end, and the Israeli-Hamas war is no exception. The timing and method of resolution remain uncertain but are of immediate importance. According to the United Nations, 1.3 million out of Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million residents have been displaced, with nearly half of Gaza’s homes suffering damage or destruction.

Relevance:

GS2

  • Bilateral, Regional and Global Groupings and Agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.
  • Effect of Policies and Politics of Developed and Developing Countries on India’s interests, Indian Diaspora.

Mains Question:

For decades, Israeli­-Palestinian relations have been locked in a never ­ending cycle of death, destruction and misery. Analysing the present state of relations, suggest a viable way forward strategy to effectively deal with the Israel-Palestine crisis. (15 marks, 250 words).

Right of Self-defense:

  • The concept of ‘right of self-defense,’ as highlighted by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, acknowledges that the Hamas attack on Israel in October 7, 2023, was condemnable, but it didn’t occur in isolation.
  • According to Article 51 of the UN Charter, Israel has an inherent right to self-defense, but it is expected to report such actions to the UN Security Council (UNSC), which doesn’t appear to have happened in this case.
  • However, the principle of self-defense doesn’t justify the disproportionate or indiscriminate use of force against civilians.
  • Reports indicate an alarming death toll in Gaza during Israel’s assault, predominantly affecting women and children, surpassing customary norms of self-defense.

Aftermath of the war:

  • While Israel is poised to emerge militarily victorious, Hamas stands to gain increased support among Arab populations, particularly in the occupied West Bank.
  • The Palestine Authority, ruling for the past three decades, has faced growing unpopularity and corruption.
  • President Mahmoud Abbas, viewed as a relatively moderate leader, has failed to make significant progress toward establishing a Palestinian state in the West Bank.
  • His perceived collaboration with Israel has contributed to a decline in popularity, and the once-dead peace process remains unresolved.
  • Suggestions, including from U.S. President Joe Biden, propose the Ramallah-based Palestine Authority taking over Gaza’s administration, with financing from wealthy Arab states for reconstruction.
  • Yet, the Palestinian sentiment, both in Gaza and the West Bank, opposes the rule of Mr. Abbas and the Palestine Authority.

Alternate Way Forward Strategies:

Fresh Elections in Gaza:

  • The proposed solution is to conduct fresh elections in Gaza and the West Bank under international supervision once conditions allow.
  • Additionally, deploying a UN peacekeeping contingent on the Gaza-Israel border for security is recommended.
  • This approach would lift the suffocating blockade of Gaza. Despite Israel’s reservations towards the UN, the U.S. is seen as needing to lead these efforts within the UNSC, considering the historical role of the UN in the establishment and legitimacy of the state of Israel.

Viability of the Two-State Solution:

  • Presently, there is a resurgence of interest in the long-neglected two-state solution, with many echoing the familiar call for its implementation. However, a critical examination of the feasibility of this concept is warranted.
  • The 1993 Oslo Accord originally envisioned the establishment of Palestine in the West Bank. Today, this region is densely populated by Israeli settlers, numbering 450,000 in the latest count. Convincing these settlers to relocate would prove a formidable challenge for any Israeli government, potentially requiring force.
  •  The West Bank is intricately woven with settler roads and numerous settlements, with additional ones in the planning stages. The current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, remains staunchly opposed to the idea of a Palestinian state, even in a diminished form.
  • A pragmatic assessment of the two-state proposal is imperative when conditions allow—a thorough examination of what is achievable and what is not.
  • This may necessitate painful concessions, including land swaps, and the establishment of a monitoring mechanism to ensure both parties adhere to their commitments.
  • Ultimately, a lasting resolution demands Israel’s withdrawal from its occupation of the West Bank, allowing for the emergence of a viable Palestinian state.

Abraham Accords as a Foundation:

  • The Abraham Accords serve as a fundamental basis for addressing Israel’s legitimate concerns regarding the safety of its citizens.
  • To alleviate these concerns, the envisioned new state should be demilitarized, and additional measures could be explored to provide assurances of Israeli safety. It is crucial to involve all neighboring Arab states in this process, leveraging the groundwork laid by the Abraham Accords.
  • If Israel aspires to coexist harmoniously with its Arab neighbors in the region, this approach represents the only viable path forward.
  •  Achieving this harmony would strip Iran of its proclaimed justification for anti-Israel rhetoric, and Hezbollah would lose a significant basis for threatening Israel.

Conclusion:

The longstanding cycle of death, destruction, and misery characterizing Israeli-Palestinian relations could be decisively broken, with the current conflict in Gaza ideally marking its conclusion. This shift toward stability could usher in an era of enduring peace and security in the Middle East.


February 2024
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