The end of the Israel-Hamas war will come. The ending depends on Israel and the Palestinians looking forward, not backward.
Given the October 7 slaughter, Israeli anger is understandable. Israel will destroy Hamas’s infrastructure and fighting capabilities, if not its hatred. Afterwards? Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu approached the slippery slope last Monday when he said that Israel would maintain “the overall security responsibility” for Gaza indefinitely.
I get the emotional backdrop. In 2005, Israel withdrew from Gaza expecting Gazans to build a prosperous home. Instead, Hamas took over and continued vowing to kill Jews and destroy Israel.
On Wednesday, the Jerusalem Post cited an anonymous senior Israeli official: Israel doesn’t intend to “reoccupy” Gaza or control it for long. That’s better. But only a bit.
Israeli political, military and intellectual leaders across the spectrum must converge to focus on a wiser approach to “the day after.” Israel will remain free to beef up its security. But involvement in Gaza will do little but continue the Middle East’s recurring and increasingly destructive version of the movie “Groundhog Day.”
The 2.5-State Solution offers a better choice. It requires international leadership and cooperation—no easy task—given the weakness of the corrupt and unpopular Palestinian Authority. Further, the PA does not want to step forward on the heels of an Israeli victory.
The Arab states, spearheaded by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and the West, led by the United States, must put up or shut up. This entails shared security for Israel and major economic assistance to Gaza, while coordinating with Israel the creation of a West Bank Palestinian state.
Gaza should become a temporary trusteeship. Arab security forces should put boots on the ground alongside the PA to tamp down terrorists while financial aid flows to the people of Gaza.
The responsible international community must also isolate Iran’s efforts to promote the destruction of Israel through its proxies: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah (Lebanon), the Yemeni Houthis, and Syrian armed forces and militias.
I remain a staunch supporter of Israel. I have family there. I’ve visited three times and seen the country extensively. But history written in blood must lead to a post-war government in Jerusalem well versed in its lessons.
Bibi’s grasp on power will soon conclude. A political center must rise. Pragmatism must outweigh further desire for vengeance. Shunning the far right’s ranting and violence, a new government must create a publicly acknowledged, viable path towards Palestinian statehood. The U.S. can then work towards the delayed agreement between Jerusalem and Riyadh. Hopefully, this will lead the international community to step up, acknowledge Israel’s legitimacy without equivocation and become part of the regional solution.
In five, 10 or 20 years, a flourishing Gaza, its people spurning terrorist aims to create “one Palestine from the river to the sea,” can integrate into the Palestinian state. In the short term, if Palestinians see real hope, another conflagration can be avoided.
As David Remnick writes in this week’s (Nov. 13) New Yorker, “Any world in which Hamas and an increasingly reactionary Israeli leadership dictate the policy and the temper of the region is doomed to more injustice, confrontation, and death.”
Pursuing the 2.5-State Solution poses real challenges. But it beats yet another war—one in which nuclear weapons could produce a Zero-State Solution.
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