Yesterday, I sent out e-mails to facebook friends that had expressed some interest in what is going on in Israel/Palestine/Gaza, asking:
1. What do you propose that Israel do right now?
2. What do you propose that Israel do over a five year plan?
To my understanding, articulation of a goal and strategy to realize a humane goal, is the hundred thousand dollar question of the day.
Things are changing very quickly. Attitudes are changing very quickly. My attitudes have changed considerably in a short three weeks. These are answers at a point in time, of good people trying to work to make the world a convivial home (for ourselves and families, for neighbors, for spirituality).
I sent out the letter to around 40 individuals and got 27 responses, a very high percentage even to people that one knows. Thank you.
In the short term, there were some black-white distinctive answers revolving around whether Israel should seek a cease-fire or continue with a military effort until some tangible goal is achieved.
Of the 27 respondents, 10 stated that they thought that the Israeli military should continue in Gaza (some temporary and conditional, others with no clear criteria for ending, or not at all), 10 stated that Israel should voluntarily participate or unilaterally initiate a cease-fire (some conditional, others unconditionally), and 9 stated that they did not know what Israel should do right now, or didn’t directly answer the question. (Some said both cease-fire and continue military.)
There was a variety of opinion on whether and to what extent to involve Hamas.
Of the 27 responses, 2 emphasized contacts with Hamas, 6 emphasized accepting the Palestinian unity government, 6 emphasized contacts with the PA primarily – as distinct from the unity government, 2 emphasized no contact with Hamas at all, 14 didn’t address the issue of Hamas directly, or didn’t know.
There was a variety of opinion on whether to emphasize social, bi-lateral political, and/or multi-lateral political efforts.
Of the 27 responses, 2 emphasized face to face relationship-building, 15 emphasized direct talks between Israel and PA (current or unity government), 2 recommended watching or permanent defense, 9 emphasized international participation in negotiations (Arab League or UN), 8 emphasized electoral and social/legal reforms within Israel, 4 didn’t comment on the venue for their recommendations or didn’t have a clear opinion.
My own, 28th voice (so far, I hope more respond, and keep the question a live one often), is in the short-run, I believe that Israel should continue its military effort, certainly to destroy as many of the offensive tunnels as they can, weapons caches, and to weaken Hamas to the point that either an international transition occupation or PA control over Gaza is achievable. Then, Israel should stay out of the way and allow Palestinians to have independent elections, in which they can THINK out their future goals.
While I hold many members of Hamas in respect, I believe that their decision in the late 90’s to emphasize (more than emphasize) their militia over their social service efforts fundamentally corrupted them. The formed a nut to protect a shell rather than a shell to protect a nut, in the accurate description of “using bodies to protect weapons”.
Mid-term, I think that Israel should negotiate with the elected Palestinian government, and firmly negotiate mutually viable two-states that are healthy good neighbors. They should engage in the common competition of hospitality, in which neighbors compete to see which will be more generous. (A friend in Israel told a story of his visit to a Palestinian neighbor. They argued vigorously over who should be responsible to pay for some food that they each ate. My friend lost the argument. The Palestinian won the honor of being the person to pay. It took a half-hour to figure out per my friend.) That’s what we should be doing, competing for who can help the most, like real friends do.
In all the venues. Face to face relationship-building, economic development, cooperative joint needs (water, public health, ecology, culture), and in political compromise. (Israel should offer more then the green line so that Palestine can be viable and healthy and know that it is valued, honored.)
My and my friends’ two cents.
A resident of Melbourne Australia
Richard , after hearing Yossi Klein Halevi last night , and hearing how Israelis have all internalised and carry the Right- Left debate within them , and are schizophrenic with it, I have come away feeling more paralysed for Israelis than ever. You have seen me being idealistic but even though Halevi made everyone feel understood, even though he made some suggestions for the future , his hope lay more on others acceptance of our status quo than on any major Israeli change at all . Halevi basically described how united all Israel is behind Netanyahu , because of his caution , even if he is unpopular . He is still very strongly supported, particularly in war time. Israelis have learnt that the rightist approach wont bring peace and that neither will the leftist approach bring peace . To tell you the truth he did not offer a ‘remedying ‘ of Zionism like Shavit or Beinart did , although he does want settlements to be frozen on WB and for us to not confuse moral self analysis with external defence.( in practice and in conversation) But he also stated that Israelis will not share Jerusalem whilst Hamas terrorism prevails. . He had VERY little to say on ROR and this disappointed me greatly . I feel like he represented the mainstream Israeli , without a future narrative , hoping that alliances will change in ME and that the world is waking up to Israels predicament . I found he explored Israel’s psyche with us in a deep way , but did’nt explore Palestinian psyche or losses much at all. This has left me feeling empty and without a thing to say today . How can i talk about any solutions when its not in touch with Israelis on the whole? Halevi commented too that when the Keri initiative failed , no one was out demonstrating …no one had expected it to succeed. So to tell you the truth , today I feel all out of suggestions. If it changes I will respond. The way Halevi framed the conflict mainly with Gaza and Hamas , and ignored framing accord to peace on WEst Bank and Abbas, also to a large extent ignoring refugees in camps and the humanitarian crises that still presents , has left me feeling very hollow.Basically he acknowledges this conflict is about 48 and not 67 , but had no substantive way forward to offer. He didnt say it , but implied was status quo with a freeze on settlememnts , full rights in Israel itself to be remedied….and hoping the future can improve as the middle East can suddenly improve , as it did with Sadat . It didnt convince me, as he did not address deligitimisation at all , other than to describe how existentially he feels we are not yet accepted in these circles as indigenous, I cant help feeling he is still rooted in his great past research and not yey fully grappling with where other sectors of the Palestinian psyche is at. as far as Gazaz goes , apaprently trhe tunnels are so extensive that Halevi feels there will be an investigation to see why they were undetected or else known about and nothing was done. he feels Bibi had no other choice in each case in this war. Whilst i generally feel Halevi is a very ‘traditional’ voice , i am not relating so well to peter Beinart’s criticisms of Bibi . I feel Israel is kinda trapped by Hamas but has no solution . So , Richard , I need time to reflect ….tit feels to me as if there is no more middle ground. Even Beinhart is not positive about 2 state solution. And Israelis are moribund in realism i think with neither the right or the left One staters having an answer to how Israel would stay Jewish and democratic. One would have to go.
1) Continue trying to end Hamas 2) More overtures of peace towards the residents of Gaza and the Palestinians 3) Draft a comprehensive deal and submit it to the United Nations for approbation
Rabbi Gershon Steinberg
Seek a ceasefire. And, lift the blockade. Seek to create a separate Palestinian State with United Nations recognized borders and with Jerusalem as the Capital of both Palestine and Israel under International status.
A Prayer for Peace
Aziz Abu Sara
Cease fire. Easing the blockade. Mainly on food and needs of population. No need to block chocolate for security reasons. Negotiate with a unity gov that represents both Hamas and Fatah
I have no idea what Israel should do now.
for a five year plan, I propose a demilitarization of gaza an end to the siege and negotiating a border with the PLO regarding the future state of palestine.
A well-known and loved progressive Israeli journalist
bearing in mind that this is impossible with the current government: 1. Open direct talks with Hamas, careful not to undermine or backstabbing The PA, staying open to and cooperative with the original Fatah-Hamas link. Talks would offer relief or lifting the Gaza siege and paying civil servants in exchange for verifiable truce and some demilitarization and or PA presence in Gaza. 2. Expand on 1 to work toward an internationally supported 2 state solution including Gaza.
1. israel should end the military operation in Gaza immediately, let fishermen leave for deep water, open land crossings for airport and export, then conduct brief negotiations who have one goal – creating mechanism to end the water and arial blockade.
2. Israel should reach an internal decision to end the occupation immediately, and enter negotiations only on the issue of implementation and desired solution (1state/2ss). there will be considerable security risks and perhaps violence (both Jewish and Palestinians), but this will happen anyway and in any scenario, so better do it now.
1. Stop killing people and use the criminal justice system rather than war to go after the kidnappers.
2. Begin a process of reaching out, providing organized venues for Israeli Jews and Palestinians to interact with each other, seeking the areas of common ground, seeking ways to provide technical assistance and support to each other, finding ways to grieve together and get past the violence, as happened in Ireland and even Rwanda. And sitting down together to figure out some way of governing that place that respects the rights of both peoples.
What Northern Ireland Can Teach Us About the Hamas Problem
You can never achieve a lasting peace if a major player in the conflict is excluded from the process.
Hamas’ impact on the Israel-Palestine conflict has been phenomenally destructive. The organization has made sure to undermine any positive dynamic that could have paved the way to a two-state solution. Its suicide bombings in 1996 made sure Benjamin Netanyahu won that year’s general election — and Netanyahu has previously taken pride in having destroyed the Oslo process during that 1996-1999 tenure.
Hamas’ shelling of the country’s south since Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005 has become one of the main reasons Israelis are not willing to take the risk of the Israel Defense Forces’ withdrawal from the West Bank. Israelis rightly ask what would happen if Hamas took over the West Bank and could turn life in all of Israel’s population centers into a living hell.
These fears are only exacerbated by Hamas’ infuriating cynicism and its use of Palestinian civilians as human shields. Most rockets are launched from densely populated areas, and Hamas does everything to prevent the civilians the IDF has warned of imminent bombardment from leaving their buildings. Hamas has certainly earned being classified as a terror organization by the Free World: its disregard for human live — mostly Palestinian, but also Israeli — is appalling.
Israel’s extreme right-wingers bask in macho statements (some of them made by women) that Hamas must be destroyed, neutralized, disarmed, shattered or smashed. This makes for good rhetoric but is utterly useless. Naftali Bennett, Danny Danon (whom Netanyahu rightly fired from the government this week), Avigdor Lieberman and Co. can dispense such advice freely, since they know it will not be implemented. If they actually had to take responsibility for their inflammatory rhetoric, they would be in trouble, because then they would have to come up with a plan on how to do this — which, of course, they do not have.
Here is Israel’s conundrum: When we leave the realm of irresponsible rhetoric and enter the world of actual planning, there seems to be only one way out — and this way creates a problem for Netanyahu.
There is remarkable consensus, ranging from Haaretz commentator Zvi Bar’el to a recent Guardian editorial (a paper generally quite critical of Israel), that the unity government of Fatah and Hamas established in June is Israel’s only chance to stabilize the situation. It would allow Fatah gradually to regain control over the Gaza Strip, creating a situation in which Israel would have a partner for negotiations that has control not only in the West Bank but in Gaza as well.
Many a reader might now want to ask: “You just wrote that Hamas is a cynical organization that doesn’t shy away from horrendous acts — and now you’re telling us it needs to be involved in a future peace process, even if indirectly? Are you out of your mind?”
As much as I loath Hamas, its anti-Semitic charter and the brutality of its leadership, I have also studied the logic of peace processes around the globe, with the help of Lord John Alderdice. He is one of the world’s leading authorities on the topic, receiving his lordship for his contribution to the Northern Ireland peace agreement. One of the main lessons Alderdice has learned from his participation in that peace process, and his involvement in many other conflict areas, is that you can never reach durable calm if a major player of the conflict is excluded from the process.
The analogy with Northern Ireland is instructive. The Ulster conflict, generally known as The Troubles, lasted 30 years and cost about 3,500 people their lives — and the conflict had roots that went back to the 17th century. Britons viewed the Irish Republican Army with no less loathing than we currently view Hamas, and the IRA’s terror tactics were often horrifying. There are even more analogies to the Israel/Palestine conflict, including the hunger strikes of Republican prisoners that played a crucial role in the conflict. And yet the IRA’s political wing, Sinn Féin, became a central player in the peace process that led to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.
Israel is currently not willing to recognize Hamas as a legitimate political party. Emotionally, I couldn’t agree more, and I have accused Hamas more than once for its destructive impact on the area and the terrible price it exacts from its own people. But if I look at Israel’s long-term interest, it is clear that without involving Hamas in some way, Israel will be under attack time and again in the coming years, and in the long run Hamas will undermine any attempt to achieve a durable agreement with Palestine if it does not get involved in the political process.
The Palestinian unity government would allow Israel to stabilize the situation in the short term, without directly talking to or recognizing Hamas for the time being. But this requires that Israel becomes serious about moving toward a durable agreement with the Palestinians, which places Netanyahu in an impossible situation. He is currently in open conflict with his own party and his “natural” allies from the right, including the settlers. His laudable restraint in the current round of conflict with Hamas has isolated him even further, and he does not have any political backing in his own camp for a constructive policy toward the Palestinians.
Danon, a powerful leading figure in Likud, has lately called him the “Labor Party’s subcontractor,” and it is unclear how much backing Netanyahu has in his own party — which has, for some time, ceased to be a mainstream right-wing party and moved toward the extreme right as represented by figures like Danon and Miri Regev.
In a sense, it is difficult to feel much sympathy for Netanyahu, because the extreme right-wing party he currently heads is largely of his own making. In the 1990s, he did much to create Likud’s culture of hatred for the peace camp, and he didn’t do much to moderate his second government from 2009-2013.
Unfortunately, the same cautiousness that has led Netanyahu to keep escalations with Hamas within limits is also likely to keep him from courageous moves and to engage with the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, reaffirmed lately by former Saudi Intelligence Chief Turki al-Faisal in the pages of Haaretz.
And if Netanyahu will not muster the courage for a creative long-term strategy, the next escalation with Hamas is only a matter of time.
) Likely missiles are now being fired further within Gaza. Don’t go there. Destroy the tunnels you’ve found an pull out. Search for exists on the other side and collapse them. Unilaterally cease bombing, but announce a single major damage hit, including but not limited to loss of life, will trigger a full resumption. Privately, agree in principle to controlled imports based on American aid.
2. Freeze settlement expansion. Construct the rule of law in the WB where IDF soldiers and settlers are responsible for unwarranted trespasses on person or property. Announce that the election of PA reps is not your concern; that only policy of an elected regime will determine response. Have privileged imports into Gaza via American aid, with security checks at point of origin and arrival. Request US funding of two or three Iron Dome batteries, as well as full replenishment of present depletion. Open if Israeli crossing to transport into Gaza only, not people crossing; urge Egypt to allow people crossing in the South. State empathically these are only first step measures and ask for advise on how to proceed. Come to terms with your settler and national right thugs. Stop allowing race and religion to trump the rule of law. Forbid, at the cabinet level, policy advocacy which limits citizen rights within Israel. If you want to so advocate, you are in the Knesset but not government. Inquire honestly as to why Arab Israelis rioted. Provide municipal services to East J. Stop acting like acts in the WB and EJ don’t have implications in Gaza. I guess that’s enough.
Ok, got them and I’ll respond. 1. What do you propose that Israel do right now? Declare a cease-fire, make Hamas look foolish if they keep firing (and since the rockets aren’t harming Israelis aside from the one tragic case it may be worth the risk and would certainly save lives of Israel soldiers) –and make Hamas look foolish and in a bad light if they didn’t. Then while Kerry’s there start taking him seriously, announce a total settlement freeze, that Israel will be willing to make substantial permanent withdrawals that all N.’s predecessors were willing to, announce it’s willingness (and be serious about it) to consider both the Saudi Peace plan of 2002 and the Geneva Accords of 2003, both of which it disdained and ignored. 2. What do you propose that Israel do over a five year plan? I didn’t realize the next question covered some of this. Work vigorously to support Kerry’s work, engage seriously and intensively on the Saudi Peace plan and Geneva Accords, announce wilingness to discuss East Jerusalem as the Capital of Palestine, quietly stop the absurd unprecedented (for Israe’s ownl PMs and in Israel’s own diplomatic history) that Abbas be humiliated made to become a “Zionist” by recognizing Israel as a “Jewish State” which no other country in the world has had to do and are not in the peace treaties with either Egypt or Jordan; on and on and on… : ). Cheers…
Yes. One thing if wouldn’t mind adding both now and next 5 years– Israel Putting the November 200 Barak offer/terms back on the table and also the Taba January 2001 near-agreement terms back on the table; if Israel really wants peace and we certainly want peace and security and end to thne confflict for it and if they do to ; and theSaudi’s and Arab League never took there offer offer off the table in the last 12 years. So add to Geneva Accords, Saudi Peace Plan, and Kerry efforts, also Barak Plan and also where they ended up so close at Taba, that stopped because Obama was a lame duck due to Gore’s stolen election, and GW Bush was about to take office who didn’t care about any of this until Condi Rice took over 6 years of his 8 terms in office later…. Thanks Richard—
Israel should keep firing for the next 3-4 days till Hamas reach its breaking point, Israel should stop aerial bombardments and murder of civilians. In the Long run, Israel should accept the Unity Government and allow elections in the territories. Recognize the new Palestinian President and announce Its willingness to negotiate a peace treaty based, like all the others, on June 4 67. It should also recognize the API and invite the King of Saudi Arabia to pray at Al Aksa.
Rabbi Chaim Adelman
Take immediate and permanent control of Gaza
I try to analyze the effects of different scenarios, but i don’t live in Israel or Palestine and don’t propose what they should do.
Did you see this article by a friend of mine? http://www.thenational.ae/opinion/comment/peaceful-resistance-could-deliver-the-greatest-dividends
Peaceful resistance could deliver the greatest dividends | The National
1. Depose Hamas in Gaza and replace it with the PA.
2. Reach a comprehensive peace agreement with PA.
Lee “Tax Carbon” Diamond
Ira Weiss is exactly correct. Can’t win with purely military strategy. There are groups today more radical than Hamas. Israel is just waging the same old game. Abbas has given a lot in the last several years. Israel needs to work a broader deal with Palestinian SOCIETY. Start with the West Bank But, they first need to extricate themselves from Gaza. Then, they have to give the Palestinians an incentive to reject violence. Long term, they have to pursue peace. That means first and foremost, stopping settlement construction or expansion
Accept a cease-fire pretty much on Hamas’ terms, or certainly on terms that allow Gaza to breathe. Should also seek technological way to destroy tunnels on Israeli side. (If it were up to me, I would lift the blockade of Gaza immediately, but that’s not going to happen.) Negotiate w/Abbas and Hamas for a two-state solution. (I would immediately tell 100,000 WBank settlers than in a year they will be living on foreign territory, and there’s a lot of compensation dough waiting for them in Israel proper, but that’s not going to happen, either.)
A resident of Queens, NY
Is it fair to say that my mind changes by the minute? Right now, my answer to the first question would be to demolish Hamas through a combination of means, including military force and strengthening the moderates. My answer to the second would be to freeze the settlements, make a beehive to Abbas’ office in Ramallah, and try to jumpstart talks.
1. Ceasefire 2. Negotiations towards a 2 state solution, with Geneva Accord g G uidelines Acknowledge the Nabka, formal apology Palestine Israel close 2 state confederation with reparations to Gaza.
No more West Bank settlements! Full and free medical care to all injured Gazans.
Yes, and please add that I also support Gershon Baskin’s more detailed plan as well. It is on my Facebook page.
A resident of Northampton, MA
I am currently flummoxed. Can’t give them advice. I think the best outcome would be for the US to give the Iron Dome to Gaza and them duke it out without killing civilians
A five year plan is also hard…..the ideal outcome would be a peaceful Palestinian state in the W. Bank and Gaza, with no closures or cages, thriving and in peace with an israel that is not resource greedy and willing to work with them for peace. I don’t see anyone on either side willing to work for that. If the Israelis are not willing, I think the US has to stop enabling this ongoing war.
My thinking is evolving. Have you seen Gershon Baskin’s proposal for an end to the conflict on FB?
Simple questions, but not so simple answers. Lol. Ok. Can I think about it a little bit and get back to you so I have thoughtful and reasonable responses?
I think Israel should continue with its mission of disabling as much of Hamas’s military capabilities, terrorist sites, weapon caches and tunnels; using its doctrine of military deterrence, until Hamas acquiesces to the Egyptian ceasefire agreement. Once the ceasefire agreement is in place, Israel should have a couple of demands: 1) a demilitarization of all Palestinian militias, so the only limited armed forces in Palestinian Territories would be the PA security forces, who coordinate security with IDF; and 2) Hamas and all Palestinian political factions must accept the Quartet’s conditions; failure to do so will result in global consensus with the designation as a terrorist organization and ineligibility for Palestinian elections. In exchange, Israel can acquiesce to most of Hamas’s demands, with the exception of freeing prisoners, which include: • Withdrawal of Israeli tanks from the Gaza border. • Lifting the siege and opening the border crossings to commerce and people. • Establishing an international seaport and airport, which would be under U.N. supervision. • Increasing the permitted fishing zone to 10 kilometers. • Internationalizing the Rafah Crossing and placing it under the supervision of the U.N. and some Arab nations. • International forces on the borders. • Easing conditions for permits to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque. • Prohibition on Israeli interference in the reconciliation agreement. • Re-establishing an industrial zone and improvements in further economic development in the Gaza Strip. In within the five years, the Palestinians should hold elections with international election observers present to ensure fair and free elections; only political parties and factions who accepted the Quartet’s conditions would be eligible. The PA should cease monetarily incentivizing violence, by ending payments to the families of convicted terrorists in Israeli prisons. They should also rename streets, public squares and buildings that have been named after terrorists. Then the PA-PLO and Israel should be required to reaffirm their commitment to the two state solution and previous negotiations, including the Clinton Parameters, Taba Summit and Road Map for Peace. Then final negotiations should be held and the unresolved issues addressed in a final and lasting peace agreement.
1)continue cleaning out the rockets and the tunnels. 2)sign a cease fire that includes a Qatari presences and the building of infrastructure. The building of a port for loading and off loading materials that have been checked at Ashdod harbor. That’s off the top of my head.
Keep fighting. Keep talking to PA about bettering on the ground situation.
A Brooklyn, NY resident prominent in the Jewish community
unilateral cease fire; join the EU call for Hamas to disarm. wait. and if necessary, go back in with ground troops. i am here and while there is great despair about the hoodlums on the right and the loss of innocent life in Gaza, there is strong unity on supporting the ground troops to destroy the tunnels.
Suzanne Brita Schecker
I propose Israel immediately stop the fighting in Gaza..
I propose that Israel’s get rid of Netanyahu and vote for a leader with a sincere desire and willingness to work for a lasting peace and a two state solution…
Israel cannot change the Arab world.
Israel cannot change Arab culture.
It can only do essentially the same. Use the big stick occasionally, and wait while the Arab world sorts itself out, or self destructs.
A resident of Brooklyn, NY
Offer to open up talks with Hamas based on Hamas’ demands, which are not unreasonable, and agree to an immediate end of military operations on both sides on this basis.
Over the next five years, cultivate back-channel relations with Hamas based on stabilizing the situation, combating the Salafi threat, and opening Gaza to free trade and travel under the supervision of neutral bodies with observers from Israel and Gaza. Demolition of all tunnels as a quid pro quo.