Is a two-state solution the answer to the Gaza war?

The people of Israel are diverse and have different opinions and needs, while its opponents are mostly of Arab origin. Herein lies the main problem.

2 mins read
People escape after an Israeli strike at a refugee camp in central Gaza Strip, on Nov. 6, 2023. The total number of Palestinian deaths in Gaza reached 10,022 since the latest round of Hamas-Israel conflict started on Oct. 7, Gaza's health ministry said on Monday. On the Israeli side, more than 1,400 people lost their lives, the vast majority in the Hamas attack on Oct. 7, which triggered the ongoing conflict. (Photo by Yasser Qudih/Xinhua)

Israel’s assault on Gaza has been one of the deadliest and most destructive military campaigns in recent history, according to most military observers. Around 25,000 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of this war on October 7, 2023. Some 130 Israeli citizens are still held captive by Hamas, and an unknown number of Palestinians, including children, are being detained by Israel. Almost 70% of those killed have been women and children, as reported by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in a December report.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has struck a defiant tone this week, repeatedly stating that the offensive will not be halted until it achieves its goals of destroying Hamas and bringing home all remaining hostages. However, there is mounting pressure on Israel to rein in its military action as the scale of death and destruction intensifies and is considered unacceptable by humanitarian concerns.

Despite this pressure, Prime Minister Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with the offensive in Gaza for many more months. There are also reports of the Israeli Prime Minister warning his ministers to be sensitive, yet each day brings more examples of military intervention.

To restore what has been lost, Israel must usher in an urgent shift of action on multiple fronts, as suggested by BBC News—security, diplomatic, and economic.

What do the people of Israel want, and what do the Arabs want most urgently?

Israel held Gaza under occupation until 2005 when it withdrew troops and settlers. In 2006, Hamas won a surprise landslide victory in Palestinian legislative elections—the last polls in Gaza. The Islamist militant group, whose charter calls for Israel’s obliteration, has controlled the enclave since then.

However, Israel never relinquished control of most of the coastal enclave’s perimeter. For nearly 17 years, Gaza has been almost totally cut off from the rest of the world, with severe restrictions on its population’s movement.

The people of Israel are diverse and have different opinions and needs, while its opponents are mostly of Arab origin. Herein lies the main problem.

The immediate cause of this present conflict is the lands between Egypt and Gaza being ‘closed.’ This move, which would give Israel complete control over the Palestinian enclave’s access to the world, was denied. Israel would not consider the war finished until it closed the ‘Philadelphia Corridor,’ a 14 km strip of land that serves as a buffer zone on the border between Egypt and Gaza.

Egypt warned Israel against military operations in this corridor, viewing Israeli incursions as a violation of the Egypt-Israeli truce.

Israel bounds Gaza on two sides and its Mediterranean coast and has been under tight Israeli blockade. Its border crossing with Egypt is Gaza’s town of Rafah, the only point not controlled by Israel. In short, this was the immediate cause of the Gaza war.

But the way to end hostilities between Israel and Gaza is now considered as tough choices for Israel, according to the US vision of a possible settlement in the Middle East, as stated by the BBC News report.

In other words, Israel will be left with no choice but to deal with the chaos and devastation it has caused in Gaza through its bombardment. The Arab neighbours will hardly be willing to contribute to the reconstruction caused by Israel in Gaza unless it is part and parcel of a bigger political settlement, which Israel finds hard to accept.

Victor Cherubim

Victor Cherubim is a London-based writer and a frequent columnist of the Sri Lanka Guardian

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