Editorial: America’s inadequate role

Al-Ahram Weekly Editorial
Tuesday 21 May 2024

This week a new round of US-led diplomacy aimed to bring an end to Israel’s revenge war against the Palestinians in Gaza after nearly eight months.


US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, visited both Saudi Arabia and Israel, while top White House Middle East Adviser Brett McGurk reportedly visited Doha late last week in order to discuss chances to resume indirect ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas mediated by Egypt, Qatar, and the United States.

After so many rounds of shuttle diplomacy by senior US officials since the war started following the attack by Hamas fighters on Israeli military posts and settlements near Gaza on 7 October, the one reality that has not changed has been the insane death toll inflicted on innocent Palestinian civilians. Last week, the number of victims hit the 35,000 mark. By early next week, we will most likely be reporting that nearly 36,000 Palestinian human beings have lost their lives. Yet the ease of citing numbers can only dehumanise the victims further, making their death sound like a normal daily routine. It is not.

As President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi noted in his speech at the Arab Summit in Bahrain last week: “The faith of all the peoples of the world in the justice of the international order is facing an unprecedented calamity, with potentially devastating repercussions for global peace, security, and stability. Justice is indivisible; and the lives of the Palestinian people are as precious as those of any other.”

He added that “the rights of tens of thousands of children of Palestine, who were brutally killed or orphaned in Gaza, stand as a perpetual sword that will forever pierce the conscience of humanity, until justice is delivered through the relevant mechanisms of international law.”

The decision by Israel’s extremist cabinet to disregard world appeals and advance on the city of Rafah along the border with Egypt on 7 May led to repeats of the horrific images and devastation of the early weeks of the war. More than 800,000 Palestinians already displaced several times before, have been forced to flee for their lives after Israel launched its attack on Rafah. Claims that the attack on Rafah has not started yet by Israeli and American officials seem now to be referring to some other place on earth, and not the thoroughly damaged Palestinian city.

Even worse, and contrary to repeated Israeli false claims that Rafah was the last remaining Hamas bastion where both senior leaders of the group and Israeli prisoners held by the group are located, relentless bombing has been taking place all over Gaza, including the town and refugee camp of Jabaliya in the north. The area closest to the border with Israel was declared clear of Hamas fighters months ago. Yet, over the past two weeks, nearly 70,000 Jabaliya residents have been forced to flee again, and resistance fighters using primitive weapons have been able to inflict heavy losses on the occupation army.

All this adds to the urgency to reach an immediate end to the war, away from the personal interests of Israel’s prime minister and his extremist right wing cabinet, or the timetable of the upcoming US presidential elections on 5 November. There is so much at stake, particularly in terms of Palestinian suffering, threats to regional stability, and economic hardships.

What is required from Israel’s key backer, the United States, is far more than appeals to “limit” its incursions into Rafah, while satellite images and US military experts confirm that the number of troops Israel amassed near the densely populated city are more than enough to carry out a full-scale invasion.

Moreover, announcing the suspension of a single US shipment of heavy bombs to Israel will remain a symbolic, if not absurd move as the same administration approved providing $1 billion worth of weapons to the Israeli army, as well as a generous grant worth $14 billion to buy even more weapons. Paying tens of millions of dollars to build a US pier on Gaza shores to provide limited amounts of badly needed humanitarian assistance will only be seen as a public relations stunt as far more advanced American bombs continue to fall on the heads of innocent Gazans.

As the world awaits a ruling by the International Court of Justice on South Africa’s request to immediately halt the attack against Rafah, adding to evidence on Israel’s policy of committing genocide against the Palestinian people, a clear message needs to reach the current Israeli government that enough is enough. A clearly worded resolution by the United Nations Security Council obliging Israel to bring an immediate end to the war without confronting the usual US veto is one way to push for that goal. The decision by the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants against Israel’s top leaders for ordering war crimes against Palestinians is a step in the right direction, and a reminder that there remains some semblance of international justice.

Even senior members of Israel’s current government have been warning against the current Israeli prime minister’s policy of fighting only for the sake of revenge, without a clear plan on how to stop the war or the day after in Gaza. Illusions of forming a hybrid Arab-American-European force to run Gaza instead of working on a serious roadmap to restore peace talks and establish an independent Palestinian state is only a prescription for failure. Contemplating such proposals will only cause the war to drag on. It is a clear attempt by Israel’s government to re-occupy Gaza. This is certainly not a plan that either Egypt or any other Arab country would accept or tolerate.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 23 May, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

Short link: