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Opinion

Only the US can end Israeli violence in Gaza

BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz - The Philippine Star

 The Middle East has remained an arena of violent conflicts which do not seem to have any immediate solution. The United States and its western allies believe that the answer to regional peace is to have two states side by side, one for Palestinian Muslims and the other one for Israeli Jews. However, there is a growing consensus that this solution is becoming unreachable and cannot be made to happen, as the possibility of Palestinians and Israelis living peacefully side by side has become unimaginable.

The idea of a Palestinian state emerging from the destruction of the Gaza Strip has no basis in reality.

It would be ideal if the Israelis and the Palestinians could negotiate a peaceful division of land into two sovereign states, but this is impossible to happen after so much bloodshed has taken place between the two peoples. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has made it clear that he opposes a Palestinian state and instead demands “full Israeli security control over all the territory west of the Jordan River.”

This would encompass land where the majority of inhabitants are Palestinians, namely East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza. The West Bank is the area of the original Palestine, a 5,000+ square kilometer area west of the Jordan River.

In other words, Netanyahu wants to continue to rule over millions of Palestinian non-citizens through an apartheid-like governance structure in which Palestinians are denied any rights and are continued to be ruled by Israelis in perpetuity.

The United States continues to advocate publicly for a two-state solution. However, it is also the entity that is really to blame for the failure of a two-state future for Palestine. The reason for this is because it is the United States that has enabled and defended past and present governments in Israel to continue ruling without giving any rights to its Palestinian citizens.

The terrible humanitarian disaster in the Gaza Strip is a clear rejection of Biden’s pledge to promote “equal measures of freedom, justice, security and prosperity for Israelis and Palestinians alike.”

This pledge would entail that the United States would make sure that Israel adheres to international law and liberal democratic norms for all the people, Palestinians and Israelis alike. In spite of Israel’s continued violation of American pledges, Washington DC continues to provide Israelis with weapons that are used to inflict violence against the Palestinian population.

At this point, it would be good for the reader to know a brief history about the Gaza Strip. This territory came under Egyptian control during the 1948 war when the State of Israel was established.  In 1967, Israel conquered Gaza together with the West Bank. Over the next 26 years, Israel directly governed the small but densely packed strip of land. In 1993, following an agreement presided over by the United States, Israel handed daily management of Gaza to the Palestinian Authority but retained a permanent military presence, control over its land perimeter and air space and oversight of its finance and tax revenue.

In 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Sharon decided to withdraw from Gaza. However, Israel retained absolute power over shared boundaries, shorelines and airspace. As a result, Israel, with Egyptian assistance, controlled everything that went in and out of Gaza, including food, building supplies, medicine and people.

In 2006, Hamas won elections in Gaza. At first, the Israeli government found it useful for Hamas to police the Gaza Strip indefinitely. This left Palestinians with divided leadership, one with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and the other with Hamas in Gaza. This allowed Hamas to consolidate its hold in Gaza.

The Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas resulting in hundreds of Israeli citizens killed and also many Israeli citizens kidnapped and held in hostage started an Israeli counteroffensive that has resulted in more than 32,000 civilians, including children, as casualties. An estimated 80 percent of dwellings in the Gaza Strip have also been destroyed by Israeli bombing. This has struck a mortal blow to the two-state solution and rendered the possibility of Palestinians and Israelis living peacefully side by side as clearly impossible.

Martin Indyk, a distinguished fellow in the Council of Foreign Relations, wrote that pushing for a two-state solution has almost no prospect of materializing. Instead, Washington should recognize current reality and use its influence to enforce adherence to international law and human rights norms by all the parties involved. He proposes that by upholding rules-based liberal international order, Washington could do much to mitigate the injustices of the present situation.

For example, there should be an end to the anomalous practice of using significant US resources to empower behavior that the US finds objectionable and that even conflicts with US interest.

I believe that he is referring to the US supplying bombs and ammunitions to Israel which are used against Palestinians in Gaza, resulting in tremendous civilian casualties, including children. The US then condemns this behavior.

According to Indyk, the US should stop using its power to enable violation of international rights and norms. If the US does not assert its power to do so, this unjust and destructive situation in Gaza will continue. The US will then be perpetuating the problem, rather than solving it.

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