"MANAGING" THE ISRAEL-HAMAS CONFLICT HAS BEEN A DISASTER
The international community has "managed" the conflict between Israel and Hamas for more than a decade. To call that policy a total failure of imagination, morality, and leadership is an understatement.
The "management" strategy was always flawed because it assumed Hamas was rational. That assumption was based on wishful thinking, not an honest assessment of reality.
A rational Hamas would've prioritized reconciling with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and joining the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the internationally recognized representative of the Palestinian people since 1974.
A rational Hamas would've also agreed to abide by international law. Namely, UNGA 181 (the 1948 partition plan for the British Mandate of Palestine), UNSC 242 (the 1967 borders for a two-state-solution), the Oslo Accords (the roadmap to peace, agreed upon by the PLO and Israel in 1993 and 1995), and the Arab Peace Initiative (which called for the normalization of relations between Israel and the MENA region in 2002).
Hamas did none of the above. In fact, it steered Gazans and the Palestinian solidarity movement in the opposite direction.
In the 16 years since it seized control of Gaza, Hamas has built a terrorist statelet by stockpiling weapons, constructing a 300-mile-long network of tunnels as deep as 200 feet underground, and installing military infrastructure in residential areas near hospitals, schools, and mosques with the intent of "obliterating" the state of Israel. To make matters worse, all of this was accomplished under the watchful eye of countless IGOs and NGOs in Gaza.
The consequences of our collective cowardice to stand up to Hamas have unfolded before our eyes for the umpteenth time since Oct. 7. Once again, Hamas reminded the international community that its use of violence has never been a means to an end but an end in itself: to eradicate all Jews from "the river to the sea" and replace the free, prosperous, and democratic state of Israel with an Islamic State of Palestine.
The Israel-Hamas conflict must be resolved because "managing" it has been a complete disaster. Even those who considered the status quo sustainable during Operations Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense, or Protective Edge have changed their minds since Oct. 7. Israel understands this, even if the rest of the international community is still in denial.
Pausing the conflict now and doubling down on the international community's failed "management" strategy will only delay the inevitable Israel-Hamas war to a later date. This would prolong everyone's suffering by helping the terror group avoid accountability for its crimes against humanity and enabling Hamas to regroup and reload until it commits another Oct. 7 massacre.
Yet not all is doom and gloom. As the primary benefactor of the Palestinian cause for the past three decades, the West should continue leading the security, financial, and diplomatic efforts on the complicated journey to transform Gaza from a terrorist statelet into Dubai on the Mediterranean once Hamas is disarmed, dismantled, and defeated.
If a joint NATO-Egypt-Jordan-UAE military occupation of Gaza is necessary after the war to enforce a permanent ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians, to guarantee that Hamas remains disarmed, to ensure that taxpayer dollars reach their intended beneficiaries instead of being embezzled by terrorists, and to institute reforms that lead to good governance, a stable economy and better living conditions for civilians in the Strip, then so be it.
Only power imposes order to chaos, not the wishful thinking that conceptualized and executed the international community's failed "management" strategy to begin with. A stable, predictable, and well-governed Gaza is a prerequisite, not a roadblock, for establishing a free and prosperous state of Palestine that can coexist peacefully beside the state of Israel.
A Palestinian state should exist where leaders have both the self-awareness to engage in introspection and the vision to look forward optimistically to the year 2100, like former Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, instead of politicians who blame their endless list of mistakes and failures on everyone but themselves. A state where the powerful are subject to the rule of law, and the powerless have access to the same resources and opportunities as the people who govern them, is what Palestinians need. A Palestine whose citizens worry not whether their children will survive another heartbreaking Israel-Hamas war, but about pursuing happiness, working hard, and enjoying the fruits of their labor.
The international community has failed in "managing" the Israel-Hamas conflict for more than a decade. The brighter path of peace and prosperity is nonetheless possible for those who are wise enough to pave it after Israel wins this war.
Originally published by Newsweek on November 17, 2023.