Violence in Gaza Sparks Pessimism in Media

  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

Views from the Region

May 13, 2019

Yet another cycle of violence between Israel and Palestine started and ended over the weekend, prompting regional observers to write some familiar op-eds. Outside of Israel, many condemned the disproportionate violence against the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. Others lamented the state of disunity across the Palestinian political spectrum. But regardless of the commentators’ differing perspectives on the conflict and how to solve it, there is a shared pessimism about the way forward and whether the Trump  administration’s long-promised “Deal of the Century” can deliver peace.


The Jordan Times editorial sums up the regional frustration over the seemingly endless violence between Israel and Palestine: “The continuation of the brutal siege of Gaza by Israel, and the prevention of its people from pursuing and enjoying a normal life without threats by Israel. The continued strangulation of the people of Gaza by Israel by cutting off their contacts with the outside world, including the enjoyment of normal trade and commerce relations with the neighboring countries, has effectively put Gaza in a pressure cooker ready to explode at any moment, with or without a cause. There is no escape from the conclusion that the only effective and lasting way to end this recurring cycle of armed conflict between the two sides is to solve the core issue facing Gaza; meaning the end of its suffocation and blockade by Israel by land, sea and air.”

Jerusalem Post’s Shimit Meir is pessimistic about the prospects that the current ceasefire will hold for much longer than previous ones, although he absolves Israel from any responsibility for the continued violence: “The people in Gaza feel isolated, deserted. As a result, there is very little positive leverage on them. The Iranians are likely to push Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas to punish Israel as things get harder for them with the Trump administration. The Qataris are mostly playing the role of an ATM machine, and the Egyptians have their own interests in the game that sometimes collide with Israeli ones. Add to all this the internal pressure Hamas is facing from hungry Gazans – backed by the PA that already took it to the streets recently – and you can rest assured that unless the broken diplomacy will be dramatically fixed, the next round is on its way.”

Another Israeli observer, Sever Plocker, in a recent op-ed for Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, presents a more unconventional perspective, arguing that the violence that took place over the weekend is more likely to encourage Hamas to cooperate with the Palestinian Authority: “It’s reasonable to assume what happened over the weekend was the last major round of cross-border fighting between Israel and the militants in Gaza. Let’s not kid ourselves, there will not be anymore attempts to ‘restore the deterrence’ because it simply can no longer be restored…. [T]he reconciliation between Gaza and Ramallah – under the Palestinian Authority’s leadership – is the only acceptable alternative to constant military confrontations. It seems that Hamas is also now more than ever willing to form a unity government with Fatah and to place its military forces under the command of the Palestinian Authority. This is the development that Israel must begin preparing for, because the era of cross-border flare-ups is over.”

Others have offered a more critical view on the actions of the Israeli government. For example, the Gulf News editorial sees violence continuing so long as the international community allows Israel to act with impunity in Gaza and in the region: “The indiscriminate use of force by Israel is yet another reminder for its complete disregard for international law. Israel has launched two grueling assaults on Gaza in 2009 and 2014, killing thousands. Despite statements issued by the UN about Israeli complicity in possible war crimes, there has been little to no consequences for its actions. Besides being slapped on the wrist by UN-crafted statements, the US, its main backer, continues to shower Israel with billions of dollars in foreign aid…. The international community needs to do more than issue statements of ‘concern’. The Palestinians need more than words to give them a shred of hope and assurance that their lives matter.”

However, Jordan Times’s Hasan Abu Nimah believes that, despite Israel’s willingness to use violence as an extension of its diplomacy, Tel Aviv is unlikely to reap any long-lasting benefits, for the same reason it has failed to do so in other conflicts: “Israel relies on its military power, coupled with its preparedness to commit any amount of atrocities to suppress protest. It is not working. It did not work in Lebanon. It is not working in Gaza or the West Bank. Palestinians who live oceans apart from their Palestinian homes are no less attached and determined. Israel also relies on foreign support and protection from accountability at the United Nations by its US ally. It also seems to be counting on recent Arab trends for normalization in the hope that such openness would annihilate the Palestinian issue altogether. This will not work either.”
One of the most common explanations for the inability of the Palestinians to make any progress toward statehood is their political disunity. Ramzy Baroud pushes against that argument in an op-ed for Arab News, pointing out that “The myth of the disunited and dysfunctional Palestinian is very much an Israeli invention that precedes the inception of Hamas, and even Fatah. This Zionist notion, which has been embraced by current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, argues that “Israel has no peace partner.” Despite the hemorrhaging of concessions by the PA in Ramallah, this claim has remained a fixture in Israeli politics to this day…. For us to claim that Palestinians are not united because Fatah and Hamas cannot find common ground is simply unjustified. National unity and political unity between factions are two different issues.”

Whether that national unity exists, and how deep it runs, will likely be tested to the extreme in the weeks and the months to come, as the Trump administration begins to put pressure on the Palestinian leadership to accept the Trump peace plan, which he has called the “Deal of the Century.” If recent reports by the Palestinian news portal Ma’an News are to be believed, that pressure is already underway: “Saudi Arabia offered Palestinian Authority (PA) $10 billion to accept the United States’ so-called “Deal of the Century’… Sources said that during a meeting, on Wednesday, between Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Salman briefed Abbas about the details of the peace plan and requested him to accept it.”

  • Middle East Policy

    Middle East Policy has been one of the world’s most cited publications on the region since its inception in 1982, and our Breaking Analysis series makes high-quality, diverse analysis available to a broader audience.

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