Gaza and the question of peace in the Middle East

Israel continues to attack suspected positions of the radical Islamic militia Hamas in Gaza. According to the Israeli army, weapons, military technology and a Hamas command centre were found when al-Shifa hospital was stormed. Meanwhile, international pressure on Israel to prioritise the protection of civilians in its operations is growing. Commentators also voice other concerns.

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Iswestija (RU) /

The country cannot afford this for long

Middle East expert Andrey Ontikov writes in Izvestia that Israel can't afford a prolonged war either economically or socially:

“As is well known, around one in 30 inhabitants has been called up to serve in the armed forces, if only temporarily. Naturally, this has an impact on the labour market and economic activity. In addition, every war needs money to finance it. And a lot of it. Bloomberg estimates that Israel is spending 260 million dollars [around 240 million euros] per day on its operations in the Gaza Strip. On top of that you have lost revenues, increased social spending to support the wounded and those affected by the conflict, subsidies and much more. ... In this situation a simple logic applies: the faster you finish the war, the less you spend.”

Jutarnji list (HR) /

A worrying lack of understanding

Playing with the idea of deliberate resettlement is dangerous, warns Jutarnji list:

“The two Knesset members Danny Danon and Ram Ben-Barak published a text in the Wall Street Journal with the headline 'The West should welcome Gaza refugees'. They justify themselves by saying that they only mean those who want to leave. Nevertheless they are treading on the very dangerous ground of 'humane resettlement', the disastrous consequences of which we have already seen in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo. ... Their position is worrying not only because of the oversimplification and lack of understanding of the situation in the former Yugoslavia, but also because it ultimately equates Israel with all aggressors who have displaced local populations.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Hamas will be replaced by new extremists

The Gaza Strip can never be pacified militarily, Gazeta Wyborcza is convinced:

“Netanyahu has announced that he wants to return to controlling security in Gaza in some form. But it is unlikely that he means reoccupation, as he knows that this is not feasible. There are more than two million Palestinians living in Gaza who sincerely hate Israel because they are dying under Israeli bombs, even though it is clear that it was Hamas that caused the current hell. It is likely that once Hamas is destroyed it will be replaced in no time by a new, equally anti-Israeli group of extremists who, like the Hamas supporters, dream of attacking Israelis.”

Ilta-Sanomat (FI) /

For Washington, the alliance with Israel takes priority

If it wanted to, the US could easily put more pressure on Israel in the Gaza war, Ilta-Sanomat argues:

“Israel's military action in Gaza has put President Joe Biden in a difficult position. He and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have urged Israel to protect the civilian population. However, their public statements have been reserved and cautious. There has been no call from Washington for a ceasefire or clear criticism of the number of civilian casualties. ... If he wanted to, Biden could intervene forcefully in Israel's military action and even threaten Netanyahu with cutting US aid. But that is unlikely. For the White House, the old and close alliance with Israel outweighs the 'collateral damage' of military action in Gaza.”

De Volkskrant (NL) /

Seek comfort together

Those in Europe who look to the Middle East should do so in a spirit of closeness rather than hostility, Volkskrant columnist Ibithal Jadib writes:

“Mosques and synagogues are requesting police protection, people no longer feel safe - here in Europe, thousands of kilometres away from the conflict. ... When people seek comfort, give it directly. ... Everyone needs encouragement right now. Unable to take concrete action, we must confine ourselves to seeking comfort from one another. This feels much less satisfying than actually doing something, but the alternative is that everyone withdraws into their own pain while hatred and arrogance continue to dance wildly around us.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Abbas discredited but indispensable

La Repubblica explains Mahmoud Abbas's intentions and role:

“By declaring his willingness to govern the Gaza Strip after the war, the President of the Palestinian Authority has shown that he expects Israel to achieve its goal and crush Hamas in this tiny strip of land. The same strip from which the Palestinian Authority forces were expelled by Hamas in 2007. ... Twenty years ago, when Yasser Arafat died, Abbas seemed to be the right man to bring about peace: more pragmatic, more determined and more reliable than his predecessor. Today he is very old, discredited by accusations of corruption and complicity with Israel and no longer capable of securing a consensus among his own people. But for Washington, he is the cornerstone for a new beginning.” (UA) /

Israel's government hindering two-state solution

Netanyahu is not acting in the interests of his key partners, points out:

“For the White House and some EU countries, the key to stability in this part of the Middle East lies in the establishment of a fully independent Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The prerequisite for this is the abolition of Israeli settlements in the areas around Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron and other cities of the Palestinian Authority's administration. ... But Netanyahu is avoiding this and has not banned his fellow citizens from building new settlements or expanding the existing ones in Palestinian territory. He is thus postponing the settlement of the conflict. ... Netanyahu has become a problem for the US.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Hamas has limited backing in the region

There can only be peace once Hamas has been eliminated, writes The Daily Telegraph:

“As with Japan and Nazi Germany in World War II, it simply needs to be defeated. The task of bringing a population back from such hatred is a daunting one. But both Germany and Japan show that it is possible, in the wake of a decisive defeat. Importantly, Saudi Arabia is still committed to normalising relations with the Jewish state. Even Iran's proxies, especially Hezbollah, have effectively abandoned Hamas to its fate, apparently fearful of the consequences of launching a multi-front war on Israel. Most governments in the region are ready to see Hamas fall.”

Aftonbladet (SE) /

Rabin, Peres and Arafat as role models

Aftonbladet favours diplomacy over weapons:

“Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize because they dared to challenge the logic of eternal violence and suffering. Where are these leaders today? And where is the Western world that pushes for a peaceful solution? Who sees all the people, the children, the civilians, the victims? Where are those who dare to believe that peace is possible? ... Diplomacy - not rockets, air strikes and drones - is the only thing that can bring security to Israel and Palestine. It sounds naive to say something like that when the logic of war and its propagandists have taken over the stage. But it is the truth.”

Le Temps (CH) /

China a potential peacemaker

Unlike in Ukraine, China can help to resolve this conflict, Le Temps explains:

“Firstly, China wants to avoid a conflagration in the Middle East, from which it secures its oil and gas supplies and where it is expanding its customer base. Secondly, Beijing is in a position to put pressure on Iran to restrain Khamenei and thus Hamas and Hezbollah. ... Thirdly, helping to restore calm in Gaza would be a major victory for China, which is increasingly positioning itself as the leader of the 'global South', as the last Brics summit and the recent Belt and Road Forum in Beijing showed.”

Visão (PT) /

Mutual respect nigh on impossible

The conditions for peace are nothing but a distant dream right now, writes Visão:

“A realistic vision of peace will only become possible if Israelis and Palestinians can put decades of death, pain and rancour behind them and recognise that they need to show each other respect. Both Israelis and Palestinians are victims of their respective political leaders, who put their own interests above the safety of their people. It is up to the people to demand change. But to ask these people to show tolerance during a bloody war and at the peak of polarisation is like trying to stop the wind with your hands. ”

Polityka (PL) /

Events torpedo war plans

Military campaigns usually develop a dynamic of their own, Polityka warns:

“Most historical examples of how wars started convey an impression of randomness, of a situation in which 'things just happen on their own'. Leaders give in to this and see no other option but to fight. ... Even when a war was planned, it was always meant to be a short, victorious campaign. But chance throws a spanner in the works of even the most passionate advocates of 'short wars with a clear objective'. The Middle East is in such a situation now: nobody wants a war, all sides are stocking up on weapons, the world is looking on in disbelief and the terrorists are playing with the fuses of more bombs.”

Ria Nowosti (RU) /

Oil market is the Achilles' heel

The state news agency Ria Novosti is not ruling out the possibility of the Arab League reacting with an energy embargo:

“Arab leaders will have to talk about how to get the US and the West to force Israel to stop. What can the Arabs do? Repeat their ultimatum of October 1973? Back then, during the Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War, the Arab countries imposed an oil embargo on the US-led West. The war ended after a week and oil prices soared. ... The oil and gas market is already in a very difficult situation as a result of the sanctions against Russia.”

The Daily Telegraph (GB) /

Israel must restore deterrence

The Daily Telegraph finds the calls for a ceasefire absurd:

“Not only would it give Hamas time to regroup its forces and prepare further missile attacks on Israelis, but many of those demanding that Israel lays down its arms are being dishonest. Is there any military response to Hamas's atrocities that Israel's critics would allow the country to take? Do they really believe that there is any chance of a political settlement between Israel and a group that wants to wipe the country from the face of the earth? ... [Israel] urgently needs to restore deterrence through a decisive demonstration of military strength and resolve. For the sake of both Israelis and Palestinians, Israel must be allowed to destroy Hamas.”

Naftemporiki (GR) /

Choose the only right path

In the end peace is also in Israel's interest, argues Naftemporiki:

“What does self-defence mean in practice? As is so often the case, there is a danger that a just principle, once it becomes absolute, will be the driving force behind never-ending violence. And that it will lead to the opposite of the original goal. Wars flare up on the thin line of legitimate defence and gradually transform it into an illegal attack. ... There are two paths. Either war, war, war. Or the attempt to move towards peace. And that is also in Israel's interest.”

Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Exploit EU's soft power

Europe has an important task, Corriere della Sera insists:

“If internal divisions and institutional regulations prevent direct intervention on the ground, the EU must at least act on its preferred terrain: persuasion, consensus-building, dialogue. ... In the absence of hard power (based on determination and deterrence, like that of the United States), the EU should exploit its soft power capital. ... Showing the world its model for peace, prosperity and justice is only the first step that a 'normative' power like the EU can take. The next is to identify and support those leaders and organisations that can change their countries' illiberal regimes from within.”

Politiken (DK) /

Draft a plan and pressure both sides

Politiken doesn't believe the conflict parties will be able to reach a peaceful solution on their own:

“How and when the war will end is not clear, but already there is an urgent need to develop an international plan for Gaza's future. ... A long-term solution must be found that both ensures Israel's security and offers hope and quality of life in Gaza. Ideally through a Palestinian state, which should have become a reality long ago. For an agreement to be reached between Israelis and Palestinians, massive pressure is needed from both the West and the Arab world.”

Times of Malta (MT) /

Send in a peacekeeping force now

Decisive military intervention is needed, says the Times of Malta:

“The United Nations Security Council should order an immediate ceasefire, place a peacekeeping force between the Israeli army and the Palestinians along the borders defined in Resolution 242 and, in exchange for all the hostages and the complete cessation of bombing and raids, declare the State of Palestine. The 75-year-old political conflict cannot be resolved by negotiations between Israel and Palestine. The solution has to be imposed upon Israel and the Palestinians from the outside. And it has to be imposed now.”