All the wars in the Near East were preceded by new annexation or partition plans that redrew its borders. This happened in 1948, when Palestine was erased from the map, and it happened in the 1967 war, when Israel occupied the rest of Palestine (the West Bank and Gaza) together with Sinai and the Golan Heights.
It also happened in 1973, when Israel was forced to return Sinai to Egypt, and in 1982, when it occupied a significant part of Lebanon, only to be forced to withdraw thanks to the resistance of the Lebanese people.
The same thing happened after September 11, 2001 with the occupation of Afghanistan and the war in Iraq, which brought with them, along with freedom and democracy, so to speak, the dismemberment of these countries into a jumble of areas based on ethnic or confessional groups, crossed by infrastructure functional to the control of raw materials. On the contrary, only the State of Israel has not defined its borders, exploiting every opportunity (i.e. every new war) to expand its territory.
That is what is happening in this war, reacting to the aggression of Hamas by definitively annexing the Gaza Strip and expelling its population – with the permission of most of the Western powers and the media, who have endorsed the criminal activities of ethnic cleansing and massacre of the civilian population.
Since as early as October 9, two days after the Hamas attack, the United States and some Western diplomacies have tried to convince Egypt to host the Palestinians from Gaza in Sinai in exchange for the cancellation of its foreign debt. At the same time, Jewish settlers have intensified their attacks against Palestinian villages and civilians in the West Bank, telling them to flee to Jordan. These intentions have been rejected, at least for the moment, due to the decisive refusal of Jordan and Egypt, but they have only been set aside.
Faced with the tragic reality caused by the Netanyahu government’s logic of revenge – which is trampling on the most elementary norms of international law – discrepancies have emerged in the attitude of the Western powers, which up to now have been subservient to the will of the Israeli right and the USA. So much so that US Secretary of State Blinken stated that “an effective and active Palestinian Authority” should ultimately govern Gaza – without, however, providing any indications regarding how to overcome Netanyahu’s opposition. The Israeli prime minister would like Israel to assume overall responsibility for security in the Palestinian territory for an indefinite period.
The same is true for the head of European diplomacy Borrell, who clearly said that Israel cannot remain in Gaza after the war. Then there is the proposal from Germany to place Gaza under a United Nations protective umbrella to allow its reconstruction and the creation of local self-government.
Evidently the issue is more complicated than the Israeli madness expected. In 1948, as Rabin wrote in his memoirs, a wave of Ben Gurion’s hand was enough to expel more than 700,000 Palestinians from their homes, cities and villages. Where things stand today, after the brutal attack by Hamas and the carnage in Gaza by Israel, finding a just and shared solution will certainly be harder than in the past.
We need to stop. An immediate ceasefire is required. It is essential for the lives of millions of human beings and to avoid the war spreading to the entire region, including the Mediterranean. And to begin reflecting on how to find a lasting solution for peace, identifying paths that are different from those tried so far. But to do this, a radical change in the policies of all the actors is needed, as well as a change in the ruling classes. As long as weapons and violence dictate the political agenda of the Near East (and of the powerful on Earth), peace can only remain a distant mirage.
From il manifesto, 18 November 2023 Edition
ALÌ RASHID is the former first secretary of the Palestinian Embassy in Italy
Translation by Paul Rosenberg
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