By Sunil Kumar*
The confrontation between Israel and Palestine is not new, but is rather a prolonged strife between the two entities. A look at the conflict’s history shows a series of demonstrations by Palestinian protesters against Israel’s settlement policy which subsequently turned these activities into violent confrontations, resulting in huge causalities. Adding a new upheaval in the prolong conflict, since last several weeks, Palestinian protesters have been demonstrating along the fence with Israel.
On 30 March 2018, a demonstration was commenced by more than ten thousands of Palestinian protesters, dubbed the name of protest as “Great March of Return”. Subsequent incidents led to killing of more than 58 Palestinians by the IDF and injuring huge numbers as well. Recently, on 10 July 2018, Gaza’s Islamic forces intensified their popular protracted demonstration. The reason behind this was Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision a day before to tighten the siege on Gaza as a response to Hamas continued launching of fire kites from Gaza to Southern Israel.
The question that needed to be asked, therefore, is whether demonstration and direct confrontation, which is not unusual, is really a solution of Gaza crises. After the last decided day of protest (the day of Nakba); did the ‘Great March of Return’ really improve Gaza’s terrible condition?
The possible answer is ‘no’. Despite the continuation of protracted demonstrations, these have not yet achieved concrete results in terms of easing the blockade and resolving Gaza’s situation. Hence, Gaza’s crises can come to end only when Palestinian leadership adopt tactical, realistic and pragmatic approach towards Israel and understand regional and global political developments. Israeli Prime Minister should also lose his intransigence attitude over Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees, and final boarders that has left Palestinian frustrated and increasingly pessimistic about any attempts to negotiate.
Why does Palestinian leadership need to understand regional and global politics? There are three reasons. First, the Arab countries rhetorical support of the Palestinian question due to religious affiliation to the Jerusalem, a vexed question heavily influenced by the religious dimension, but failed to substantially provide financial assistance to Gaza Strip. A recent instance is the US President Donald Trump’s decision on 7 December 2017 to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to shift US embassy to Jerusalem. Saudi Arabia and others Arab countries unanimously stood against Trump’s decision.
However, on a contrary, Saudi Arabia, on 7 March 2018, gave nod to India’s Air flights to fly from New Delhi to Tel Aviv over its sovereign air space signals. On 27 March 2018, Saudi Arabia’s Prince Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud recognised Israel’s right to exist during his visit to the US. Moreover, ties between Gulf countries and Israel also continued to enhance, as Mirage 2000 fighter jets from the United Arab Emirates and F-16s from the Israel Air force flew together in the sky above Greece. A week earlier, senior Saudi, Emirati, Qatari and Omani counterparts all sat around the table with Israeli officials in the White House.
The point, therefore, is their open sharing of the dais with Israel, while they have been boycotting Trump administration since the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. These open cooperation between Israel, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf states, are seen at the expense of the Palestinians. Iran which is increasingly troubled economy and collapsing currency subsequently protest embarked. Protesters were chanting “leave Syria and think of us” and “No to Gaza” “No to Lebanon”. These developments should be considered carefully by the Palestinian leaders.
Second; a decade before, the image of Israel had gone through universal contempt. Netanyahu was scorned by Obama. European leaders did not intent to hear from him. Arab leaders showed him the red flag. Asian countries shrugged their shoulders, and African nations were not interested. Over the last several years, the regional and global politics had gone through various metamorphoses, the most considerable of which was the Arab Spring that elbowed Palestinian issue into a corner.
Following the collapse of several regimes in the region, as a result of civil wars, riots and chaos that culminated in the downfall of the older order in the region and changing guard in the United States from the Obama to Trump. Negativity has spiralled into positivity and universal contempt has turned to global admiration.
Lastly; the growing Israeli popularity in international politics cannot be underestimated. The image of Israel have been become a mover and shaker in international politics. It can be seen through the various developments. Recently, Israel maintained strategic relationship with Asian countries namely India and China, conducted affairs with the most of the Sunni Arab world, and established its presence in Central and Eastern Europe. Last week, on 18 July 2018, a leader from European country, a Hungarian PM named Viktor Orban, who has been flirting with anti-Semitism and praised Nazi regime for many years, has now visited Israel for a two-day visit. Moreover, on 16 July 2018, two superpower countries’ leaders, Russian President Valadimir Putin and US President Donald Trump, had a meeting in Helsinki where the Israeli PM was praised by the both the leaders and had expressed deep commitment to Israeli security.
Given the above context, Palestinian leadership should be aware with the developments and the dynamics of regional politics. After several weeks of violence, Israel and Palestine, both need to explore the possibilities of peace process yet again, which is tantamount. Therefore, Palestinian leadership needs to immediately put some serious efforts in implementing recent reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah that will make a united front in order to negotiate with Israel. Israel should leave its intransigence over certain issues and lift the blockade with mutual agreement. A modest step such as these could be achieved with the help of an external player. If such efforts fail, then on-going violence will take the shape of a fourth Gaza War, leaving Gaza in worse and severe condition. The dire condition of Gaza cannot be solved at all through military confrontation in which huge numbers of innocent people are sacrificing their lives in vain.
*Sunil Kumar, a PhD student, in Centre for West Asian Studies, School of International Studies, JNU, New Delhi.