Reassessing policies: Israel, Palestine, and the United States after the conflict

Mohamed Fayez Farahat
Monday 13 May 2024

The current crisis in Gaza is not the first in the Middle East region, but it is the most dangerous, for its repercussions on regional security, and perhaps even leading to a change in the shape of the region.

 

The crisis has revealed many phenomena that require fundamental reviews. The call for these reviews has already begun, but it has been directed to some parties rather than others.

All parties need to conduct these reviews, the direct parties, including Israel, Palestine, and the United States.

The first review required on the Israeli side concerns the approaches adopted by Israeli governments to protect its security. These governments, along with the security and military institutions and religious currents, have assumed that Israel's security can only be guaranteed through security and military approaches towards the Palestinians. At the same time, they have embraced an economic approach towards the rest of the region that dispenses with any political process that ends with the establishment of the Palestinian state.

This assumption has been proven completely wrong. The military-security approach has been unable to guarantee Israel's security. It has not achieved Israel’s dream of liquidating the Palestinian cause, nor has it even guaranteed the sustainability of the economic approach with the rest of the region.

The second review falls on the shoulders of Israeli society and is related to the danger of the hegemony of the religious and political right over the political and legislative institutions within Israel. The crisis has revealed more than ever the depth and danger of the hijacking of the political and military decision by this current, especially the extreme religious right.

Last but not least, Israel needs to reach an important conclusion from this crisis, which is that its policies in the region in general, and towards the Palestinians in particular, can lead to the explosion of the region. Regional security does not concern Israel alone; regional security and stability are a regional and international interest.

Regional security and stability are based on important pillars, the most prominent of which are the balance of power, and the main treaties that organize Israel's interactions with the main countries in the region. There is an important interest in preserving and maintaining these pillars. Israeli behaviour in the region has become a threat to these pillars, which will in turn affect the data and trends in the region.

On the Palestinian side, the first review required concerns the state of the Palestinian-Palestinian division. The current crisis has revealed the huge costs that the Palestinians have paid, and the Palestinian cause has paid, because of this division. These costs could be much higher in the coming period if this division continues. Ending the division requires selflessness, flexibility, and political pragmatism.

Review or political pragmatism does not mean renouncing the cause or renouncing Palestinian rights. Review and pragmatism are in some cases a condition for survival. Reviewing the literature and experiences of resistance movements confirms this fact, especially when it comes to this type of complex, long-lasting conflicts.

Likewise, there is an urgent need for the Palestinian forces to review the nature of their relations with some regional parties, through an objective assessment of these relations, based on the criteria of gain and loss, and away from ideological considerations.

The crisis has revealed an important fact: the Arab framework, with Egypt at its heart, is the true and natural framework for managing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and protecting Palestinian rights.

Even when the international framework was employed, as was done during this crisis, it came based on the organized Arab movement and Arab-international coordination.

The relative change in the positions of the international powers regarding the ongoing Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip came only as a result of the Egyptian and Arab political and diplomatic efforts.

This does not mean in any way that any of the Arab countries have guardianship over the Palestinian decision or the decisions of the Palestinian resistance. However, the crisis revealed beyond doubt that some of these decisions may have effects that go beyond their direct geographical scope and may even impose a "strategic reality" that harms the Palestinian interests themselves. This necessitates Palestinian-Arab coordination and preserving the Arab identity of the Palestinian cause.

Meanwhile, the United States must distinguish between its responsibilities as a superpower that still dominates the top of the world system, and its responsibilities towards Israel as a unique strategic ally.

The United States has the responsibility to protect and maintain public goods within the world system. The most important of these public goods is global security as well as regional security, primarily in the Middle East.

The United States has overemphasized its support for Israel. Even when the current US administration disagreed with Israel over restrictions or red lines in Gaza, there have not been any clear and categorical American messages to its ally. This encouraged Israel to violate these red lines. The failure of the United States to act as a superpower has made it appear – according to many analyses – as if it is subordinate to Israel and not the other way around.

Even when the United States moved to assert its presence in the Red Sea and carry out some operations against the Ansar Allah (Houthi) group, the message was not entirely clear either; So instead of these operations coming within the framework of the American responsibility to protect freedom of global navigation, they came in the context of supporting Israel so that it could continue its aggression on Gaza. These military operations ultimately came to undermine freedom of navigation in this extremely sensitive global passage for world trade.

The United States needs to review and assess the costs that such support for Israel has incurred. Israeli policies in general, and the ongoing aggression on Gaza in particular, have harmed the United States as a superpower and inflicted damage on the set of values that the United States has established itself as a protector of. Chief among these is respect for human rights, especially the right to life. This support has also harmed international law and international humanitarian law, and the UN system, etc.

These are the set of values and institutions on which the world system has been based since the end of World War II, a system that the United States itself helped to establish and inherited after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and still represents a foundation for the era of American hegemony. In conclusion, Israel and its policies have become a burden on the United States.

Egypt, for its part, has exerted tremendous efforts to stop this aggression and preserve the pillars of regional security and stability, based on the governing principles of the world system. The responsibility remains on the other parties to emerge from a crisis that the region has never faced before.

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