After The Gaza War: The US And Israel Are Both Power And Judge In The Conflict – OpEd


The protracted war between Palestine and Israel has resulted in significant consequences, impacting not just the primary stakeholders but also the wider Islamic community. This scenario has emerged as a paradigmatic illustration of a confrontation between distinct cultures, whereby the principles of human values and humanitarian law have encountered certain constraints.

What is the reason for this phenomenon? It is vital to comprehend the contemporary genesis of the subject matter. The narrative starts in Europe, including the intricate interplay of social and political dynamics, the phenomenon of imperialism, the complex issue of the Jewish Question, and the emergence of Christian Zionism. On one side, among the English-speaking Evangelical Christian community, Zionism was garnering theological endorsement and receiving assistance from colonial powers. Conversely, inside Central and Eastern Europe, the Jewish Question gave rise to the concept of establishing a Jewish state in Palestine, as well as instances of hate crimes against Jews. These events ultimately culminated in the Nazi Genocide. The alignment of British imperial interests with Zionist goals during the First World War was motivated by the shared objective of dismantling the Ottoman Empire. Following the conclusion of the Second World War, the United States actively advocated for the establishment and maintenance of the liberal global framework, as well as the promotion of Zionism within the Middle Eastern region. As a result of their industrial might and military victories, the Western countries assumed dual roles as both petitioners and judges inside the newly established United Nations.

While the Arab world recognised the historical significance of Jerusalem in the Jewish tradition, Palestinians were unwilling to accept their forced exile. Despite the lack of recognition by contemporary society, the Western world persisted in pursuing its religious ideals, disregarding the displacement of indigenous populations. Despite the constrained extent of their agency, the Arabs of Palestine exhibited their opposition, which subsequently came to be recognised as the Arab rebellion. As a reaction, the British Empire released the White Paper, which aimed to impose limitations on Jewish immigration to Palestine. However, it is worth noting that these efforts were not totally successful in completely halting the inflow of Jewish immigrants.

Following this, the Arab world, represented by the Arab League, put out a proposal that exhibited a stance of acceptance and inclusivity towards a Jewish minority residing inside a prospective Palestinian state. Nonetheless, the leadership of the Zionist movement firmly rejected any proposition that would subject them to the authority of what David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first Prime Minister, referred to as the “brute Arab majority.”

The United Nations resolution of 1948 resulted in the partitioning of the area, wherein Israel assumed responsibility over 55% of the territory, while the other 45% was allocated for Palestinian administration. Following the Arab-Israel war of 1948, more than 700,000 Arabs were expelled by Jewish armed groups from territories that became Israel. In the end Palestine was left with the remaining 22 percent of the land and that too was occupied by Jordan and Egypt.

Israel’s diplomatic interactions with the Arab nations situated on its borders were characterised by a persistent state of conflict, which compelled the Tel Aviv to use its military capabilities and initiate a preemptive offensive against Egypt in 1967. After the complete destruction of the Egyptian air force, the hostilities expanded to include the countries of Syria and Jordan. In spite of encountering significant opposition, Israel ultimately achieved triumph and experienced geographical expansion. The outcome of this triumph posed a distinctive predicament for Israel, as its populace now consisted of almost equivalent Arab and Jewish populations.

In light of the prevailing normative framework of the international legal system, which is based on the nation-state system and the principle of territorial sovereignty, the international community called upon Israel to return to the territorial boundaries that existed in 1967. This call aimed to reaffirm the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. 

During this particular period, the United States adopted an interventionist approach, demonstrating resolute commitment to maintaining global and regional separation from the war. By using its veto power, the United States effectively prevented the passage of any United Nations Security Council resolutions that called for Israel’s departure from occupied territories. The US interpretation of the UN resolution was that it just necessitated withdrawal from certain territories, rather than including all areas. This perspective facilitated the emergence of a vaguely defined conception of justifiable boundaries for Israel, which, if widely adopted, could possibly be used as a justification for territorial expansion by any state pursuing strategic objectives. In the present global setting, this line of reasoning might be used by any nation, such as Russia, in relation to its geographical closeness of its capital Moscow to Ukraine and Poland, to justify the need of territory annexation in order to ensure secure borders and strategic advantage.

In the post-1967 conditions, western countries have continuously forged alliances with the most dominant group involved in the dispute. The Palestinian population has been subjected to the effects of military rule, while Jewish colonies have progressively encroached into these lands under occupation. The West Bank is home to a population of more than 450,000 Israeli settlers, while East Jerusalem accommodates over 220,000 Jewish residents. Additionally, the Golan Heights houses around 25,000 Israeli Israelis. 

The Fourth Geneva Convention, ratified in 1949, pertains to the safeguarding of non-combatants in armed conflicts and explicitly forbids an occupying force from relocating its civilian population into the region under its control. Multiple decisions by the United Nations Security Council, such as Resolution 2334, have reiterated the unlawful nature of Israeli settlements and have urged for their discontinuation.

In the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Palestinian resistance has encountered a distinctive and noteworthy obstacle. The difficulty arises from the moral perspective prevalent in the western world, which emphasises the concept of restorative justice in response to historical mistreatment of Jews in Europe, as well as the biblical imperative that some argue mandates unwarranted support for the existence and growth of Israel. Germany after the Nazi era made significant efforts to enhance Israel’s naval capabilities. Since the year 1967, the United States has made a commitment to give an annual aid package of $3.8 billion to Israel, along with occasional specific military support. The provision of financial assistance, in conjunction with the transfer of modern military technology and equipment, has made a substantial contribution to bolstering Israel’s defence capabilities and enhancing its overall military power. 

The constant and unequivocal support of the United States for Israel has had a considerable influence on the dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, frequently restricting the efficiency of peaceful tactics and readiness from Israel to pursue the policy of iron first strategy. Furthermore, the massive network of US military bases created throughout Arab states has virtually limited any successful military balancing against Israel. The approach used by the United States has centred on incentivizing Israel to initiate discussions with Palestinians from the position of strength. What the US patronage policy has resulted a significant challenge to the feasibility of the two-state resolution.

Despite, the Arab world agreed to recognize Israel based on 1967 borders in 1981, the conflict did not end. The vision of peace was offered by King Fahd of Saudi Arabia. The programme was designed with the intention of serving as a comprehensive peace effort, with the primary objective of settling the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict and fostering stability within the Middle Eastern region. A comprehensive withdrawal of Israeli forces from the lands that were occupied during the Six-Day War of 1967, including the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights, and East Jerusalem. The acknowledgment of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination and the formation of a sovereign Palestinian state, with East Jerusalem serving as its capital. The guarantee of security and sovereignty for all nations in the area, including Israel, is of paramount importance. The objective is to establish a comprehensive peace accord between the State of Israel and all Arab nations, resulting in the normalisation of relations and the cessation of hostilities. A fair and equitable resolution to the matter of Palestinian refugees, in alignment with the principles outlined in UN Resolution 194, entails considering several possibilities such as repatriation, compensation, or resettlement.

However, it became evident that the Arab world’s recent peace vision was not a sufficient prerequisite for effectively guiding the peace process.  Israel showed a greater inclination towards conflict management and ignored the condemnation from the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). The initiation of the peace process was undertaken by the United States. The United States’ participation in the Palestinian peace process has been noted at significant junctures that align with the achievement of wider goals in intra-Arab politics. The first notable occurrence took place in the early 1990s, specifically coinciding with the onset of the first Gulf War. During this particular era, the United States demonstrated strong support for the Oslo Accords and participated in diplomatic endeavours aimed at cultivating a peace process between the Palestinian and Israel. The aforementioned engagement was seen as a component of a more comprehensive approach to impede Iraq’s endeavour to establish itself as the foremost oil and military force within the Arab region. The United States spearheaded a worldwide coalition in the defence of Kuwait against Iraq. The mechanics of the Oslo Accords were Israel’s readiness to establish a hybrid model that entailed the transfer of administrative and economic responsibilities to the Palestinians, while maintaining military authority within Israeli jurisdiction. 

In a like vein, the United States’ second significant engagement in the Palestinian peace process occurred concurrently with the strategic development and implementation of the Iraq war. The establishment of the international quartet for Middle East peace in 2002 aimed to facilitate mediation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The formation of the entity was facilitated by four prominent international actors, namely the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, and Russia. The major aim of the Quartet was to achieve a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem by using diplomatic and political strategies. Despite making many endeavours to facilitate peace discussions and negotiations between the two sides, the Quartet’s efficacy and significance were constrained. The United States shown a hesitancy in permitting any kind of international pressure to be used against Israel. 

As a result, the Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, adopted a diplomatic approach aimed at establishing ties with Arab nations, while simultaneously downplaying efforts to address the issue of Palestinian statehood. This approach prioritises the advantages that may be derived from fostering partnerships with Arab nations, based on similar security concerns, convergent economic objectives, and a cooperative stance against Iran. 

The United States adopted and formulated the concept of the Abraham Accords. The act of recognising Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel by former US President Donald Trump sent a message to both Palestinians and the international community. In 2018, the United States relocated its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This action was seen as a notable deviation from prior United States policy, resulting in Israel resorting to the use of force against Palestinians who expressed opposition to this decision. The decision encountered significant resistance from the global community inside the United Nations. The Palestinian population saw these occurrences as a substantial hindrance to their ambitions for establishing an independent state and exercising their right to self-governance. The Abrahamic Accords facilitated the establishment of diplomatic ties between Israel and five Arab nations. 

Within the context of the prevailing historical circumstances, a series of assaults on Israeli citizens by Hamas occurred on October 7, 2023, resulting in the tragic loss of over 1400 lives and the abduction of around 245 individuals. Hamas’s approach to resistance was severely criticised and seen as an act of terrorism and lacking legitimacy. The Western community promptly recognised Israel’s right and need to react to a horrific murder. Israel has determined that a proportional reaction would include the complete eradication of Hamas. Numerous residential properties in the northern region of Gaza have incurred significant destruction. Approximately 13,000 Palestinians have lost their lives, with a further 25,000 sustaining injuries. 

Should the State of Israel be granted the authority to adopt retaliatory measures that align with the collective punishment approach? Should the military action undertaken by Israel in Gaza be analysed within the framework of a strategy that prioritises revenge? To date, Israel has established a new record in terms of the quantity of explosive material dropped over the Gaza region. The Gaza Strip is a densely populated region with a population of around 2.5 million people, consisting mostly of refugees who were displaced during the 1948 conflict. This area has been characterised by limited access and movement, leading to comparisons with an open air jail.  The effectiveness of international law and the UNSC has been deemed inadequate. 

So we have global public opinion. The political response to the outcry against crimes committed against Palestinians is limited within the scope of the Arab League’s resolutions. We do not know what Arab public feels because in non-democratic countries the civil society does not exist. Arab public knows what happen to those millions of people who dear to challenge the Syrian Assad regime. They understand what happen to the Arab world first elected government, in Egypt. The moral outcry for justice and an early ceasefire has been more prominently expressed in Iran, Turkiye, European capitals, and the United States. So ultimately the responsibility for taking moral stand against Israeli action is on democratic world because they only can do. 

The second argument posits a realist perspective, suggesting that wars cease only if Israel will fell military and pressure from Islamic civilization. This particular circumstance is likewise absent. Israel gets an annual allocation of three billion dollars from the United States. The Biden administration has put out a proposal to provide an additional special assistance package amounting to 14 billion dollars to the State of Israel. The current regional power dynamics heavily favour Israel. Since the year 2008, Israel has initiated many military conflicts in the Gaza region and has never faced any prospect for punitive actions from the Arab and Islamic world. The United States publicly justified these unintended civilian casualties.  In the present instance, the United States has sent a robust admonition to the Middle East via the deployment of conventional and nuclear warships to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. The message is evident: it is imperative to provide Israel the authority to choose an appropriate and proportionate retaliation in response to the assault initiated by Hamas. 

What factors contribute to the dominant position of the Israel-US alliance in the Middle East? The Islamic world lacks political ideological unity and common enemy, and power centre. In contrast to Western culture, which has shown its agency via the establishment of NATO and the EU, the Islamic world lacks an equivalent institutional framework for collective action. The Arab League, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) are prominent regional organisations in the Arab world. These organisations exhibit distinct patterns of logic and operational comprehension. Like, Saudi Arabia is a common actor in all three organizations.

Saudi Arabia has membership in the G20 and possesses significant influence within the global energy market. The governing regime perceives political Islam as an existential danger, seeing Iran, Turkey, and the Palestinian liberation struggle as integral components of this ideological framework. The formation of the GCC bloc consisting of monarchical regimes may be attributed to its objective of fostering cohesion in response to both the perceived threat posed by Iran and the internal pressures for democratic reforms.

These nations have gladly provided hosting facilities for the United States Air Force and Navy as a means to ensure the longevity of their own regimes, which also indirectly aids the nation of Israel. The Gulf Arab nations exhibit a lack of empathy for Hamas, a political entity that attained power via the electoral process in 2007. The Saudi Arabia-led coalition actively promotes Arab nationalism as a means to counter the influence of Iran and Turkey in the area. The Saudi Arabian, United Arab Emirates, Jordanian, and Egyptian governments see the efforts of non-Arab Muslim nations to advocate for the Palestinian cause in opposition to Israel as calculated manoeuvres aimed at influencing Arab public sentiment at their cost. The primary strategic limitation faced by this alliance is to the stance of Iran and Turkiye in denouncing Israel, which is accompanied by the use of rhetorical tactics against Israel for domestic purposes.

Finally, there is the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) consists of 54 member states. The effort in question originated from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and is headquartered in Riyadh. The perspective presented regards Saudi Arabia as a prominent figure in the Islamic world, while seeing Iran and Turkiye as competing entities. The use of sectarian disparities between Shia and Sunni factions is employed as a means to perpetuate division. Saudi Arabia strategically counters Iran’s revolutionary narrative by including a sectarian dimension inside the broader Islamic world.   

Considering the prevailing circumstances, it might be argued that the Middle East has no balancing force in opposition to Israel. The Gulf Arab coalition does not approach the United States and Israel in the same manner as it does with Iran and Turkey. The GCC bloc benefits by the deployment of American military forces in its borders, despite the fact that this also helps Israel’s strategic objectives. Moreover, these nations have been actively implementing a strategic approach aimed at reducing their reliance on oil. Consequently, they have shown a clear reluctance to participate in any kind of pan-Islamic boycott targeting the United States and Israel companies. In addition to the oil resources of Israel, a portion of their supply is sourced from the Turkish Republic of Central Asia. These nations exhibit an authoritarian secular type of administration, which contrasts with Turkey’s inclination towards prioritising national interests in its relationship with Israel.   This elucidates the reasons why a civilization including around two billion people lacks the capacity to exert influence on the war occurring in their immediate proximity.

The current inquiry pertains to identifying the entity capable of resolving the ongoing war, characterised by a distressing frequency of casualties among the Palestinian population. The United States and Israel are the two entities that provide the solution. In the first situation, it is recommended that Israel, in its post-military aims, should consent to actively promote the two-state solution, which is founded upon principles of mutual respect, dignity, and collaboration. The second scenario has the United States using its multifaceted strategic influence on Israel. The international community has the capacity to exert influence on Israel, compelling it to engage in negotiations for a cessation of hostilities, establish a definitive timeline for achieving peace and implementing a two-state solution, and ensure that Palestinians are held accountable for any violations of the peace agreement. One approach to institutionalise this dedication is to endorse the mutually agreed-upon peace settlement between Israel and Palestine inside the UNSC subsequent to its attainment.

Dr. Mumtaz Ahmad Shah

Dr. Mumtaz Ahmad Shah is an assistant professor in the Law Department at Presidency University, Bangalore, India

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