Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
How to Put an End to the
Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Once and For All
Gush Shalom, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN,
November 26, 2012
Vote for the Palestinian application for statehood in the UN
Move towards peace with the entire
Palestinian people, including Fat'h and Hamas – so we can really put an
end to the violence, ONCE AND FOR ALL!
THE MANTRA of this round was Once And For All.
“We must put an
end to this (the rockets, Hamas, the Palestinians, the Arabs?) Once and For
All!” – this cry from the heart was heard dozens of times daily on TV from
the harassed inhabitants of Israel’s battered towns and villages in the
It has displaced the slogan which dominated several decades:
“Bang And Finish!”
It did not quite work.
winner emerging from the cloud is Hamas.
Until this round, Hamas had
a powerful presence in the Gaza Strip, but practically no international
standing. The international face of the Palestinian people was Mahmoud
Abbas’ Palestinian National Authority.
Pillar of Cloud has given the Hamas mini-state in Gaza wide international
recognition. (Pillar of Cloud is the official Hebrew name, though the army
spokesman decreed that the English name, for foreign consumption, should be
Pillar of Defense.) Heads of state and droves of other foreign dignitaries
made their pilgrimage to the Gaza Strip.
First was the powerful and
immensely rich Emir of Qatar, owner of Aljazeera. He was the first head of
state ever to enter the Gaza Strip. Then came the Egyptian prime minister,
the Tunisian foreign minister, the secretary of the Arab League and the
collected Arab foreign ministers (except the one from Ramallah.)
all diplomatic deliberations, Gaza was treated as a de facto state, with a
de facto government (Hamas). The Israeli media were no exception. It was
clear to Israelis that any deal, to be effective, must be concluded with
Within the Palestinian people, the standing of Hamas shot
sky-high. The Gaza Strip alone, smaller than an average American county, has
stood up to the mighty Israeli war machine, one of the largest and most
efficient in the world. It has not succumbed. The military outcome will be
at best a draw.
A draw between tiny Gaza and the powerful Israel
means a victory for Gaza.
Who remembers now Ehud Barak’s proud
declaration in the middle of the war: “We shall not stop until Hamas gets on
its knees and begs for a cease-fire!”
WHERE DOES that leave Mahmoud
Abbas? Actually, nowhere.
For a simple Palestinian, whether in
Nablus, Gaza or Beirut, the contrast is glaring. Hamas is courageous, proud,
upright, while Fat'h is helpless, submissive and despised. Pride and honor
play a central role in Arab culture.
After more than half a century
of humiliation, any Palestinian who stands up against the (Israeli)
occupation is the hero of the Arab masses, in and outside the country. Abbas
is identified only with the close cooperation of his security forces with
the hated Israeli occupation army. And the most important fact: Abbas has
nothing to show for it.
If Abbas could at least show a major
political achievement for his pains, the situation might be different. The
Palestinians are a sensible people, and if Abbas had come even one step
closer to Palestinian statehood, most Palestinians would probably have said:
he may not be glamorous, but he delivers the goods.
But the opposite
is happening. Hamas is achieving results, Abbas is not. As a
Palestinian told me: “He (Abbas) has given them (the Israelis) everything,
quiet and security, and what did [or “does”] he get in return? They spit on
This round will only reinforce a basic Palestinian
conviction: “Israelis understand only the language of force!” (Israelis, of
course, say exactly the same about the Palestinians.)
If at least
the US had allowed Abbas to achieve a UN resolution recognizing Palestine as
a non-member state, he might have held his own against Hamas. But the
Israeli government is determined to prevent this by all available means.
Barack Obama’s decision, even after re-election, to block the Palestinian
effort is a direct support for Hamas and a slap in the face of the
“moderates”. Hillary Clinton’s perfunctory visit to Ramallah this week was
seen in this context.
Looked at from the outside, this looks like
sheer lunacy. Why undermine the “moderates” who want and are able to make
The answer is openly expressed by Avigdor Lieberman, now Netanyahu’s
official political No. 2: he wants to destroy Abbas in order to annex the
West Bank and clear the way for the settlers.
HAMAS, the big winner is Mohamed Morsi.
This is an almost
incredible tale. When Morsi was elected as the president of Egypt, official
Israel was in hysteria. How terrible! The Islamists have taken over the most
important Arab country! Our peace treaty with our largest neighbor is going
down the drain!
US reactions were almost the same.
– less than four months later – we hang on every word Morsi utters. He is
the man who has put an end to the mutual killing and destruction! He is the
great peacemaker! He is the only person who can mediate between Israel and
Hamas! He must guarantee the cease-fire agreement!
Can it be? Can
this be the same Morsi? The same Muslim Brotherhood?
The 61 year old
Morsi (the full name is Mohamed Morsi 'Eissa al-Ayyad. 'Eissa being the
Arabic name of Jesus, who is regarded in Islam as a Prophet) is a complete
novice on the world stage. Yet at this moment, all the world’s leaders rely
(Actually, Jesus is more elevated in Islam than a Prophet. He is one of
the five main Messengers of God. The other four are Noah, Abraham, Moses,
and Muhammed - Editor's Note).
When I wholeheartedly welcomed
the Arab Spring, I had people like him in mind. Now almost all the Israeli
commentators, ex-generals and politicians, who uttered dire warnings at the
time, are lauding his success in achieving a cease-fire.
THROUGHOUT THE operation I did what I always do in such situations: I
switched constantly between Israeli TV and Aljazeera. Sometimes, when my
thoughts wander, I am unsure for a moment which of the two I am looking at.
Women weeping, wounded being carried away, homes in shambles,
children’s shoes strewn around, families packing and fleeing. Here and
there. Mirror images. Though, of course, Palestinian casualties were 30
times higher than the Israeli ones – partly because of the incredible
success of the Iron Dome interception missiles and home shelters, while the
Palestinians were practically defenseless.
On Wednesday I was
invited to air my views on Israel’s Channel 2, the most popular (and
patriotic) Israeli outlet. The invitation was of course withdrawn at the
last moment. Had I been on air, I would have posed to my compatriots one
Was It Worthwhile?
All the suffering, the
killed, the injured, the destruction, the hours and days of terror, the
children in trauma?
And, I might add, the endless TV coverage
around the clock, with legions of ex-generals appearing on the screen and
declaiming the message sheet of the prime minister’s office. And the
blood-curdling threats of politicians and other nincompoops, including the
son of Ariel Sharon, who proposed flattening neighborhoods in Gaza City, or
even better, the whole Strip.
Now that it is over, we are almost
exactly where we were before. The operation, commonly referred to in Israel
as “another round”, was indeed round – leading nowhere than to where it
Hamas will be firmly in control of the Gaza Strip, if not
more firmly. The Gazans will hate Israel even more than before. Many of the
inhabitants of the West Bank, who throughout the war came out in their
thousands in demonstrations for Hamas, will vote in even greater numbers for
Hamas in the next elections. Israeli voters will vote in two months as they
intended to vote anyhow, before the whole thing started.
Each of the
two sides is now celebrating its great victory. If they organized just one
joint celebration, a lot of money could be saved.
WHAT ARE the
The most obvious one is: talk with Hamas.
Directly. Face to face.
Yitzhak Rabin once told me how he came to
the conclusion that he must talk with the PLO: after years of opposing
it, he realized that they were the only force that counted. “So it was
ridiculous to talk with them through intermediaries.”
same is now true for Hamas. They are there. They will not go away. It is
ridiculous for the Israeli negotiators to sit in one room at the Egyptian
intelligence service HQ near Cairo, while the Hamas negotiators sit in
another room, just a few meters away, with the courteous Egyptians going to
Concurrently, activate the effort towards peace.
Save Abbas. As of now, he has no replacement. Give him
an immediate victory to balance the Hamas achievements.
Vote for the Palestinian application for statehood
in the UN General Assembly.
Move towards peace with the entire Palestinian
people, including Fat'h and Hamas – so we can really put an end to the
ONCE AND FOR ALL!