The conflict between IDF forces and Hamas in Gaza is now well into its second week with no immediate end in sight. Last weekend we offered our own take on the situation, and today fellow AI blogger Adam Garfinkle chimes in. Here’s his take on Israel’s strategic dilemma:
Everyone who really understands the underlying strategic realities of the present crisis knows that the best that can be achieved for now is another Hamas-Israeli ceasefire, after a suitable amount of pain and blood have been exacted. There is no possibility of a genuine reconciliation between Israel, with whatever government it may elect, and Hamas, at least as long as Hamas remains what it is: a particularly nationalized Palestinian form of the Muslim Brotherhood, itself a deeply authoritarian and atavistic movement. Now, it is true, as I have written before, that significant changes are afoot in Arab culture, not least of them the fact that religion as a political symbol has been decisively pluralized. All sorts of interesting things percolating into Arab politics, even some positive ones, could flow from that in due course—but not very soon, not easily, and not smoothly. If we wait until a liberal democratic force rises to governance in Gaza, or even in the West Bank for that matter, we’ll be waiting not just until the cows come home, but until their bovine progeny learn to churn their own butter.
Nor, for the time being, is there any prospect of the PLO regaining control over Gaza and uniting the PA under a single political-territorial umbrella. Indeed, this whole business in Gaza weakens the PLO in the West Bank, through probably not fatally so. Not that a reunified PA would then want or be able to waltz itself into a final settlement with even a center-left Israeli coalition. But it would at least be a thinkable prospect.
Given those realities, the prospect is for ceasefire followed by mini-war followed by ceasefire followed by another mini-war and so on, with each successive burst of violence more destructive than the one before. With all due respect to my old friend, Ehud Ya’ari, his most recent whack at the piñata in Foreign Affairs really doesn’t amount to much. Yes, it’ll be harder to get a ceasefire now thanks to the uncertainties of the Egyptian role, but so what? Another ceasefire will be born only to be broken.