Jonathan Fryer

Israel/Palestine: Déja Vu All over Again

Posted by jonathanfryer on Friday, 19th August, 2011

The tragic cycle of violence has restarted in Israel-Palestine, this time triggered by a terrorist attack on bus passengers in southern Israel not far from Eilat. The Israelis say the killers infiltrated from Gaza via Sinai, which both Hamas and the Egyptians deny. Whatever the truth of the matter, reprisal strikes were almost immediate, with several Gazan militants being killed — along with civilians, including children. Inevitably, given the assymetrical nature of the conflict, the Palestinian death-toll of the past 24 hours has already surpassed that of Israelis this year. Moreover, as I write, Egyptian media are reporting more bombing raids over Gaza, more deaths (including more children). Will this cycle of violence never end? The armed wing of Hamas has declared that its ceasefire has been suspended, which is an ominous indication that Israel can expect more rockets or other attacks, which in turn will more than likely lead to yet more disproportionate bloodshed in Gaza at the hands of the IDF. All this, of course, in the run-up to the Palestinians’ plan to ask for statehood at the United Nations next month. Indeed, the timing of that is so close that this seems more than a coincidence. Someone, somewhere, wants that initiative strangled at birth. The so-called Middle East Peace Process already was long ago.

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One Response to “Israel/Palestine: Déja Vu All over Again”

  1. Thanks, Jonathan. A thoughtful piece by you. What is a proportionate response to the firing of rockets at civilian targets? Israeli ‘reprisals’, or an Israeli ‘response’? I would argue that it is a response, rather than reprisals. Indeed, a response targeted at those responsible for the action that is being responded to, with the aim of preventing those people from repeating the initial action. That is different from reprisals. Were the RAF to bomb the cell that organised that attack on the British Council in Kabul, to prevent it from organising other, similar attacks, that could (for me) be a legitimate response, and I wouldn’t call it reprisals. Reprisals, for me, signifies revenge or punishment, and I don’t see this as being that. http://www.bicom.org.uk/news/news-archive/eight-israelis-killed-in-terror-attacks-near-eilat

    Of course, we know that Israel is strongly opposed to a unilateral declaration of independence by the Palestinians at the UN in September. An increase in bloodshed arguably generates such heat as to create a climate of opinion that will be more critical of Israel, and so more favourable to a Palestinian UDI. “Look at this latest Palestinian suffering and these latest Israeli bombings of Gaza,” some people will say, in a counsel of despair. “This definitely shows why the peace process is hopeless, so the Palestinians must instead go it alone at the UN.” From Israel’s point of view, the best hope of preventing a Palestinian UDI is for there to be a period of calm in the Palestinian territories, as that will strengthen international efforts to bring about renewed negotiations.

    What is interesting is that Hamas is also openly against a Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood at the UN in September, http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/hamas-leader-palestinian-un-bid-a-scam-1.376004

    I have blogged about September, the UN and the peace process at: http://matthewfharris.blogspot.com/2011/07/quartet-diners-swallow-their-own.html

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