Is it a coincidence that every time effort is exerted to kick-start the peace process Israel comes out with a significant operation that rouses public opinion and which causes the parties who are exerting this effort to respond or is this a deliberate issue that reflects an unwillingness to reach a peace agreement, including complying with certain pre-requisites?
This is what happened with regards to the invasion of Gaza that took place years ago, and which had tragic political and humanitarian results, and this is something that was repeated on a larger or smaller scale on a number of occasions since then. This includes the announcement of settlement expansion in eastern Jerusalem during a visit to Israel by US Vice President Joe Biden, which embarrassed the vice president and caused a diplomatic row with Washington. And now there is the bloody attack on a flotilla of international ships that were carrying aid to Gaza, which resulted in a number of deaths and injuries, exciting astonishment about the use of excessive force in this manner without taking into consideration the consequences of this.
Anybody monitoring the initial responses to this attack can see the extent of the diplomatic losses to Israel. The condemnations have come from across the world, and the responses that are astonished by this behavior and condemn it even come from Israel’s friends and allies. These responses also raise questions about whether Israeli politicians and decision-makers – who take decisions such as this – are aware of the reality of the world that we live in today, and the limitations and restrictions on the use of acceptable force by States. Questions have also been raised about the possibility of progress in the peace process when this manner of thinking exists.
This type of thinking indicates that Israel is arrogant with regards to its power and lacks understanding or attempts to absorb the lessons of history, including their previous experiences in Lebanon and Gaza. These experiences indicate that while strength of force can achieve military victory and wreak financial and military havoc in one’s opponents, this may not necessarily result in political gains, and on the contrary this has long-term adverse effects, fueling a climate of tension and hostility that makes resolving the peace process difficult and almost impossible.
It seems that logic or rational thinking was completely absent from the deadly Israeli attack on the flotilla of aid ships, for there is no justification for an operation where military commandos use live fire against dozens of activists in this manner, as if this were a war-time military operation against a ship whose occupants were armed to the teeth. This represents scorning the international community and its norms, or drowning in the illusion of power and the feeling that there is no accountability.
What happened may represent a new setback in the Obama administration’s efforts to revive the Palestinian – Israeli negotiations, however Washington should not stop its involvement in this, and on the contrary it should intensify its effort, including by applying pressure on the Israeli government and holding it responsible for putting an end to the cycle of endless violence which would lead to a Palestinian State. There are dues that ought to have been paid [to the Palestinians] a long time ago. As for the Palestinian side, what happened confirms the necessity of putting an end to the division between Gaza and Ramallah in order to break the [Gaza] blockade.