Echo Sierra

Thoughts on Conflicts, Peace and Defence policies

Posted by Olivier Jacquemet On November - 19 - 2012 2 Comments

Please accept my apologizes for the rude title of this post, but this is what I first thought when I saw the pictures of Ahmed al-Jabari‘s car. The Hamas top military commander was killed Wednesday by an Israeli airstrike while driving through Gaza, as hostilities between Hamas and IDF had sparked off anew after a Palestinian kid was shot on the 8th of November, during a border skirmish between the Israeli Defense Forces and the Popular Resistance Committees (a Palestinian militant group).

Surgical... "They fuckin' got good effect on target" (Generation Kill). (credits: Reuters)

Surgical… “They fuckin’ got good effect on target” (Generation Kill). (credits: Reuters)

And my second though: BOHICA… For those of you not familiar with military slang terms, here is a quote from the wiktionary:

BOHICA (bend over, here it comes again) is an item of acronym slang which grew to regular use amongst the United States armed forces during the Vietnam War. It is used colloquially to indicate that an adverse situation is about to repeat itself, and that acquiescence is the wisest course of action. [...] Its usage has spread to civilian environments, used to describe unavoidable, unpleasant situations that have inconvenienced one before and are about to yet again.

Indeed, except for the ground offensive (about which we do not know, yet, whether or not it will be launched), the situation looks similar to previous ones: an escalation of violence and an (expected and yet to come) return to the *routine* of occasional rockets fire and airstrikes… and a stuck Peace Process.

Palestinian politics set aside, we can consider two options:

  • either Israel is interested in an actual two-State solution and should apply Churchill’s motto: “In war: resolution. In defeat: defiance. In victory: magnanimity. In peace: goodwill“. Thus, it should stop weakening the PLO and engage in a fair peace process (which, I agree, will also have to rely on responsible Palestinian partners)…
  • …or Israel is not interested in a two-State solution (the settlement policy tends to back this option) and the status quo will remain.

But, is the status quo sustainable?

To some extent, yes, and that might explain the Israeli right wing’s success. Hamas is stuck in the Gaza strip and can, at best, fire rockets at Israel. Rockets whose human and psychological cost is actual but in fact limited. The US support to Israel is constant, the EU’s diplomatic weight is not important enough, Arab states are facing their own problems…

 However, on the long run, the status quo is not satisfying and might lead to more uncertainties, for several reasons:

  • The issue of settlements might influence the peace process towards a one-State solution. Such a solution will require the populations’ consensus, which is a tremendous (but not impossible, I agree) process. This is an interesting solution but a process that radicals from both sides will be too happy to sink (they spared no efforts to torpedo the Olso accords)
  • While the attention is focused on Gaza, developments are still ongoing in neighboring Arab states: Syria (whose future as a united country is unsure), Egypt (who tries to deal with unrest in the Sinai and is the Muslim Brotherhood’s cradle), Jordan (newspapers gave more room to Gaza than the demonstrations in Jordan – which, in the long run, might be more serious for Israel’s security than Hamas’ rockets)… Whilst instability at its border is increasing, Israel might want to have some stability in Gaza and West Bank. It could achieve this stability through the overwhelming use of force but this might lead to more Palestinian resentment, which is dangerous in the long run
  • In Arab states facing a transition , new leaders must manage both their relations with Israel and with their grassroots and population, who are more radical regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict than they are… Not to mention that they sometimes do not have full control over their militants (or militants non-affiliated to their political parties, and I will not speak about the whole population…)
4 Smoke trails rise as Iron Dome missiles intercept a rocket which was launched from Gaza, near the southern town of Sderot, on November 15, 2012. A Hamas rocket killed three Israelis north of the Gaza Strip, drawing the first blood from Israel as the Palestinian death toll rose to 15 in a military showdown lurching closer to all-out war with an invasion of Gaza. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

4
Smoke trails rise as Iron Dome missiles intercept a rocket which was launched from Gaza, near the southern town of Sderot, on November 15, 2012. A Hamas rocket killed three Israelis north of the Gaza Strip, drawing the first blood from Israel as the Palestinian death toll rose to 15 in a military showdown lurching closer to all-out war with an invasion of Gaza. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

Conflict factors (even if they would not imply conventional warfare or high intensity guerrilla) cannot help but amplify. Hence, the obvious (and perennial) conclusion is that a lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is more than ever necessary. But I fear this necessity will be postponed until the next confrontation…

2 Responses so far.

  1. Edouard StengerNo Gravatar says:

    Awesome article Olivier ! I don’t follow this issue – too busy with the other ones – but thanks to your article I got a grasp of the situation out there.

    Most unfortunately, I agree with your conclusion.

    Our elected representatives are too busy getting reelected or getting money in their bank accounts (or sometimes get laid, cf the Petraeus situation) to care about us…

  2. Olivier JacquemetNo Gravatar says:

    Yes, unfortunately, when it comes to take effective action to solve a problem, people tend to mitigate their speeches…

    But if, to some extent, this issue is similar to your field (short-term policies, wrong answers, lack of coordination and effective action), I think it is a bit different as leaders from both parties are not (only) driven by election results (all the more true for Hamas leaders…) or short-term economic gains, but more by their own vision of the future of this land.

    That is the main difference with, for example, fight against climate change. You know this field better than me, but it is my understanding that:

    - policies aiming at fighting climate change lack of a coherent strategy and are not enforced with sufficient means: we are trying to achieve an objective (that is not very well defined by political leaders) with limited commitment

    - while Netanyahu’s or Hamas objectives are very clear (gaining control over mandatory Palestine) and enforced with strong commitment (which sadly results in further fueling the conflict…)

    But I agree that results are quite similar: the lack of a strategy that would defuse a crisis and allow a sustainable future.


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