The recent Israel-Hamas war, which lasted 11 unforgettable days may count as the bloodiest in terms of deaths and carnage it enacted albeit disproportionately during that short duration. Its aftermath was also not lacking in propagandist rhetoric that could not have been devoid of doses of delusions of grandeur, no matter their absurdities. But the delusions or the accompanying absurdities could be excused if only to serve as a morale booster in the face of the existential need of the Palestinians for unity and courage in dealing with their formidable enemy- Israel. I am referring to Hamas leader Ismail Haniya's rhetorical flourishes that could be spotted in his phrases such as a "balance of force", "epic victory", and "divine and strategic victory", all of which seem to set great store by propaganda, or by insensitivity to the horrendous experiences of the Palestinians in the Gaza enclave for those unforgettable eleven days of horrors. It was quite amazing and utterly disturbing that, with a loss of 243 innocent Palestinian lives, including 66 children; close to 2000 injured or the massive infrastuctural destructions, Mr Ismail Haniya could still be talking about victory over the Jewish State who recorded only 12 fatalities in the Eleven Day War.
But Ismail Haniya rhetoric is not my focus in this artcile. I am more concerned with the utmost- the ceasation of hostilities and the embrace of olive branch through diplomacy, which presupposes the acknowledgment of the futility of terrorism, militancy, armed struggles or wa in the quest for a Palestinian nation under the UN Security Council Resolution 242 of 22 November, 1967, The resolution "calls for recognition of the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and political independence of every state in the area. It also acknowledges their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force". It is not unlikely that the UN Resolution 242 was informed by what I, in another essay, described as a mutuality of claims to ownership of the land of Israel/Palestine by both the Israelis/Palestinians. However, in order to concretize the UN resolution as well as the mutuality of claims, weapon of diplomacy not aggression nor military confrontations with the Jewish State of Israel should weigh heavily on the minds and in the considerations of the Palestinian authorities in West Bank and Gaza. This is more so because the Jewish State is quite familiar with the nuances of self-determination struggles or of war of independence and will certainly be unfazed by bloody confrontations, orgy of bloodletting or the Palestinian choice of violence as a veritable weapon of its self determination struggles. In other words, Israel is more than capable to rebuff Palestinian armed confrontations or to payback the Palestinian violence in multiple fold.
Late President Anwar Sadat of Egypt realized this early enough, leading to the dropping of his hawkish disposition and the subsequent breaking of the diplomatic ice. His wise but risky decision, for which he paid the supreme price, led to the signing of Camp David Accord between Egypt and Israel on 26 March 1979. Jordan took the same step of non belligerence when it harmonised relationship with Israel on 26 October 1994. And many years after the historic Egyptian and Jordanian peace agreements with the Jewish state of Israel, others Arab States are now dropping the aggressively hostile dispositions to Israel in favor of diplomatic oversures. That for instance, Arab countries of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirate have normalised relations or are having understanding with the State of Israel could also not be dissociated from the Israeli military formidability, which makes its existence as a nation in that contested land as well as hostile Arab nations unpalatable reality that the Palestinians have to live with if only to bring to a final stop the agonising and difficult lives that have been the lots of the Palestinians since the State of Israel was born in 1948. This unpalatable reality cannot be wished away by the Palestinians; rather it should spur both the political and military leaderships of these beleaguered people to reconsider their military approach to solving the seemingly intractable problem with Israel in favor of "the Anwar Sadat Approach". You cannot do the same thing time and time again and expect different result. Palestinians have employed a 'Violence Approach' since their struggles for self-determination started decades ago, but the approach has not brought them closer to achieving their main goal- the Palestinian state. Instead, the violence strategy has brought them untold pains, agonies and utter destructions while the limited land for the envisaged State of Palestine shrinks at the end of every armed confrontations with Israel. Isn't it then high time that the tactic or strategy was changed? I am convinced that majority of Palestinians in Gaza will welcome a change of strategy that renounces the vicious cycle of war with Israel but for fears of been labelled traitors. One was therefore not marvelled by the post-Eleven day war Hamas-sponsored celebration of victory or demonstration of support for continued rejection of non-belligerency.
In any case, such attitude has elicited from me, on behalf of the majority of Palestinians in Gaza, the following questions for Hamas leadership; Why not put Israel on international spotlight as an aggressor who is deliberately aggressively pursuing occupation policy by virtue of its military formidability? Why not make untenable the usual Israeli refrains of its right to defend itself from enemies that make the destruction of Israel their cardinal objective? Why not abandon actions that will serve as a pretext for the Jewish State to unleash its destructive military hardware on innocent civil populace? Why give the Israeli military leadership the opportunity to test the efficacy of their current military R&D efforts? Patriotic answers to these questions by the Hamas leadership will doubtlessly make the job of President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestine Authority in the West Bank easier. The preference of President Abbas for olive branch instead of the usual, hawkish stance of the Hamas is not in doubt. This is because the latter stance has reeked more havoc than development.
The Abbas Olive branch preference acknowledges Israel’s existence as well as the inalienable rights of the Palestinians to a homeland, based on a two-state structure for the land of Israel/Palestine without which peace between these two antagonists, not minding the religious attestations to their common origin, with Abraham/Ibrahim as forefather or progenitor, will be elusive. The plausible inference from this, which I believe will serve the Palestinians in good stead, is that those who were not forthcoming with their support for the Palestinian cause because of its choice of terrorism as a veritable weapon for prosecuting their just cause will now be uninhibited in their support for the Palestinians. This was reflected in the positive reactions from members of the American Congress, including members of the Democratic Party and from across Europe in support of Hamas during post-11 day Israel-Hamas war. To my mind, the support for the Palestinian cause, signposts the gradual waning of support from the Israeli traditional allies. Palestinian leadership should take advantage of the momentum. This requires that a paradigm shift from the unfruitful war mongering posturing or the Violence Approach strategy of the past decades to one that embraces diplomacy should be most welcome. It should not be seen by the Palestinian leadership as capitulation nor as a sign of weakness. No, it isn't!
Palestinian leadership should remember that it was not until the Palestinian Liberation Organisation's (PLO) tactical renunciation of terrorism that it was delisted from a terrorist organisation list. It was that same paradigm shift that led to the Oslo Accords. Both Oslo 1 and Oslo 2 Accords are agreements between Government of Israel and PLO, signed in Washington DC in 1993 and in Tapa, Egypt in 1995. The Oslo Accord marked the beginning of the Oslo process, which was a peace process which main thrust was the achievement of a peace treaty based on United Nations Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, and on fulfilling the "right of the Palestinian people to self-determination."
Now that ceasefire is in force, it is time for stocktaking by both the Israelis and the Palestinians. The stocktaking however, is not only about the loss of lives, nor is it about the usual rebuilding or reconstruction of war damaged social and economic infrastructures, as important as they are, is about reflections on lost opportunities to make progress through the diversion of the scarce resources to productive enterprises that would have enhanced national growth and development. One could imagine how many more highrise buildings would have been added to those bombed into rubbles; how many more hospitals and schools would have been built had the Palestinians avoided war like plagues! As for the Jewish State, its political leaders should pause to imagine what a much great, powerful and prosperous country Israel would have been, if it had channeled its uncommon business acumen, its prodigious gift or ingenuity in science and technology into productive engagements instead of into war preparations and prosecution! War must be avoided by Israelis and Palestinians- the two antagonists- at all cost because of its ugliness or hellishness. On the hellishness of war, William Tecumseh Sherman was spot on in his "I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell". It is my ardent hope that in-the-not-too-distant future, both Palestinians and Israelis will be able, in the words of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, to sit down together at the table of brotherhood, and equally be, persuaded by the wisdom in William Tecumseh Sherman's War is hell.
Get all latest content delivered to your email a few times a month.