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A Crescendo of Calls for Relief in Gaza, Yet Elusive Ceasefire: A Stalemate of Unwilling Participants

Friday, 03 November 2023 13:51 Opinion

"Ceasefire Dilemma in Gaza: Unwilling Participants Prolonging the Conflict"

Amidst the escalating conflict in Gaza, international calls for a ceasefire are intensifying, driven by the alarming scale of destruction and humanitarian suffering. However, the prospect of a ceasefire in the region remains uncertain, as both Israel and Hamas seem reluctant to embrace such a resolution.

Israel's declared objective is the destruction of Hamas, both as a military and political entity, with the added goal of freeing Israeli hostages. A ceasefire, according to Israel, would impede the achievement of these objectives and might be perceived as accepting limitations on retaliatory actions, which is deemed unacceptable in the face of the perceived threat posed by Hamas.

On the other side, Hamas, while not explicitly stating its war aim, likely seeks to provoke Israel into responding with actions deemed barbaric. The hope is to erode international support for Israel, eventually compelling significant concessions in the form of a genuinely autonomous Palestinian state. The prolonged conflict, however, weakens Israel's moral standing on the global stage, presenting a strategic challenge even for some within Israel who recognize the limitations of their retaliatory window.

The complex dynamics of the conflict highlight the difficulty in achieving a ceasefire when both parties perceive potential gains from continued fighting. As international pressure mounts, the delicate balance between pursuing military objectives and risking global support becomes an intricate challenge in the pursuit of a lasting peace in the region.

"Gaza's Humanitarian Crisis: Calls for Ceasefire Intensify Amidst Devastation"

The harrowing images emerging from the Gaza Strip depict a landscape in ruins, with residents living in constant fear amid widespread destruction. Advocates for a humanitarian pause, as specified in UN resolutions and EU conclusions, argue that the severity of the suffering necessitates immediate international intervention. Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer have both made compelling cases for Israel to permit the swift delivery of humanitarian aid, including food, water, and medicines to the people of Gaza.

While the idea of a ceasefire seems appealing in the face of such humanitarian crises, the reality is complex. Influential backers like the United States, while exerting pressure behind the scenes, cannot impose a solution. Qatar actively engages in negotiating the release of hostages, and backers of Hamas, particularly Iran, benefit from the perpetuation of conflict.

Despite these challenges, the escalating risks of unrest in the West Bank, potential conflicts with Hezbollah, or broader regional contagion may increase international pressure to bring about a cessation of hostilities. History cautions against attempting to eradicate terrorism by subjecting an entire population to terror, and the Israeli assault on Hamas appears to be consolidating rather than weakening support for the group. The dynamics in the region have shifted, challenging Israel's assumption that a growing Palestinian population could be marginalized peacefully. The Palestinian Authority's internal issues, including corruption and a failure to hold elections, have undermined its credibility, prompting a shift in Palestinian support towards Hamas as the primary advocate for their cause.

"Netanyahu's Role and the Unraveling Two-State Solution: A Bleak Outlook for Peace"

Over the past decade, few Israeli politicians have done more to challenge the feasibility of a two-state solution than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. His government's unwavering support for Jewish settlers in the West Bank, particularly under the present right-wing coalition, has intensified, leaving Palestinians with limited options—either submission or armed resistance. The acceleration of settlement expansion has created a situation where a return to the previous status quo is deemed impossible, leaving Israel without a coherent strategy for its future.

Despite the existence of voices in Israel advocating for an alternative path towards peace, these voices are notably absent from the government's discourse. Netanyahu's alignment with political allies committed to removing all Palestinians from the West Bank mirrors the extreme positions of Hamas, contributing to increased polarization. This raises doubts about the viability of a two-state solution and prompts consideration of a one-state solution, where Israelis and Palestinians coexist as full and equal citizens within a single state.

Currently, Hamas maintains a clear strategy, albeit with increasingly brutal consequences for both Israelis and Palestinians. However, Israel's response appears flawed, lacking a clear and viable endpoint. In the absence of such clarity, neither ceasefires nor humanitarian pauses seem capable of bringing an end to the conflict anytime soon. The region remains mired in uncertainty and the pursuit of lasting peace faces significant challenges.

Nicholas Westcott, Professor of Practice in Diplomacy at Soas University of London and former Managing Director for the Middle East in the EU's European External Action Service, articulates the complexities and concerns surrounding the current state of affairs in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"In conclusion, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stands at a critical juncture, with the two-state solution appearing increasingly untenable under the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The persistent and amplified support for Jewish settlers in the West Bank has left Palestinians feeling cornered, with limited alternatives to submission or armed resistance. The absence of voices advocating an alternative path within the government exacerbates the polarization, raising doubts about the viability of a two-state solution.

As Hamas pursues its strategy with brutal consequences, Israel's response is marred by a lack of clarity and a viable endpoint. The region grapples with a profound absence of a coherent strategy for the future, and without a clear vision, neither ceasefires nor humanitarian pauses offer a definitive resolution to the conflict.

The prospect of a one-state solution, where Israelis and Palestinians coexist as full and equal citizens, is now being contemplated, challenging longstanding assumptions. The complexity of the situation requires careful consideration, and the absence of a path forward leaves the region in a state of uncertainty, grappling with the pressing need for a sustainable and just resolution to bring lasting peace."

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