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Blind power is self-destructive

Oct 09,2018 - Last updated at Oct 09,2018

States that own the power to violate international law in favour of the pursuit of their illegal ambitions fail to predict the long-term outcomes of such misguided policies. Israel, which has rarely complied with the provisions of international law or UN resolutions since its creation, is a very conspicuous example.

In the first three decades of its existence, from 1948 untill 1982, Israel used its military power as a successful tool for political and territorial gains.

As a result, Israeli leaders planned military superiority over all Arab neighbours since the very beginning. They also sought the possession of nuclear power and they managed to accomplish that option early on as well.

Israel joined in with the British and French invasion of Egypt in 1956. 

However, when the invading powers were compelled by American pressure through UN action to withdraw from the Egyptian territory that they had managed to occupy, Israel ended up gaining access, which it had hitherto been denied, through the straits of Tiran. That was its reward for joining that war.

Ten years later in June 1967, Israel invaded Egypt, Syria and Jordan simultaneously, resulting in its occupation of the entire Sinai Peninsula up to the shores of Suez, including the Palestinian Gaza Strip, on the Egyptian side, the entire Golan Heights on the Syrian side and the West Bank in Palestine, including Jerusalem, then part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Jordanian side.

This was a stunning territorial gain that Israel never dreamt of possessing in a war which only lasted a few days. Except for Sinai, Israel continues to occupy, to this day, all the other lands that were won during that war.

That, however, was not the only Israeli gain of the 1967 war. The other more significant benefit of that Israeli victory was Arab recognition of the state of Israel as it was before June 4, 1967, in accordance with Security Council Resolution 242 that year; meaning that Israel acquired, with Arab agreement, 78 per cent of the land of Palestine. Although Security Council resolution demanded Israeli withdrawal from the Arab lands occupied in 1967 in return for Arab recognition, Israel got away with both benefits: recognition and continued control of both the Golan Heights and the West Bank, including Jerusalem, in a flagrant and open defiance of international law.

Fifty one years have already elapsed since that UN compromise which, if respected by Israel, would have saved the region massive complications, including the swift drift to terrorism and chaos. In the meantime, Israel, not the Palestinians as often claimed, has been missing precious opportunities for ending its conflict with the Arabs and living in normal conditions and peace.

Even in 1973, when the October War was started by Egypt and Syria, Israel managed to counterattack and regain lost territory, but that war was a shocking setback for Israel.

The critical turning point, however, occurred in 1982 when Israel invaded Lebanon, forced the Palestine Liberation Organisation out of it, as intended and advanced so deeply so as to occupy the country’s capital of Beirut. To translate that military victory into a political one, a US-aided draft treaty 'The May 17th Agreement’, created mostly on Israel’s terms, was presented to Lebanon.

The plan soon fell apart with the assassination of the then-Lebanese president, Bashir Al Jumayyel, the collapse of the envisaged treaty and the rise of effective Lebanese resistance.

The military adventure in Lebanon turned into a political disaster for Israel. Not only were Israel’s military personnel losses relatively and quite unexpectedly very high, but Israel also had to evacuate Lebanese land in stages, under the constant pressure of the said Lebanese resistance that emerged as a direct result of that war, without any political gains. The Lebanese resistance remains, until this date, a grave military challenge for Israel and quite a considerable deterrent.

Up until the war in1982, Israel used to invade, win wars and impose political terms. Not any more.

With US protection and support, however, Israel has, since 1967, succeeded in colonising most of the occupied Arab territories, the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Gaza, which was also partly colonised, had to be abandoned in 2005 and placed under a cruel and crippling siege.

More than ten years ago, Israel had to “disengage” from Gaza and remove the 7,500 Jewish who believed they had settled there permanently. 

That proved untenable as the protection of the settlers turned out to be very costly security wise, almost militarily impossible. But to prevent the disengagement from rewarding Gaza's “misbehaviour”, the evacuated settlements were destroyed with the debris left for the Palestinians to clear; Gaza with its million and a half inhabitants was placed under tight siege from land, sea and sky, and only subsistence-level supplies were allowed to enter the "biggest open air prison on earth". On top of that, Gaza had to endure two major wars and regular raids causing massive death and destruction.

Fast forward to the current era coinciding with the election of US President Donald Trump.

For years, Israel has viewed the situation in the region, even internationally, as extremely favourable and thus has been tempted to speed up the process of colonising the occupied Arab lands, making no concessions for peace, not even verbal, disengaging from any previous commitments made to the Palestinians, however feckless and maximising their own claims by always topping their list of demands from the Palestinians.

The advent of the Trump administration, however, and the unrestrained adoption by Washington of all the demands of the current right wing government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, has offered the latter an unprecedented opportunity to fearlessly and unilaterally make final decisions on issues that have so far been approached with caution. Jerusalem has been officially recognised by Trump as the united eternal capital of Israel, thus it has been taken off the negotiating table, Palestine was declared as the land of the Jewish people, thus the Palestinians have no place there, not just now, but retroactively as well and UNRWA is declared unnecessary by stopping the agency’s funding, thus the delusion that the refugees would disappear and the Right of Return issue would disappear too.

While previous American administrations were not unfavourable to most of Israel’s demands, the current one seems to be fully committed not just to supporting Israel, but also in espousing all Israel’s extremist demands however illegal, counterproductive, dangerous and destabilising.

On the face of it, Israel seems to be sure that by employing its hegemony and power, and by exploiting Palestinian and Arab weakness, all its ambitions are being reached politically and territorially.

Upon closer examination, however, this may not actually be the case: By choosing to completely ignore obligations normally respected by law-abiding states, by oppressing the Palestinians to the point of annihilation and by denying their rights and by resorting to military aggression against any target of choice, Israel has won the war but lost the peace.

Since its creation, Israel constantly feels under threat as any outlaw entity would. Not only has it had to keep its finger firmly on the trigger, but in order to feel safe it needs to destroy real as well as imagined enemies. Having chosen to be in a state of war with all, Israel has placed itself in a corner where its very existence can only be maintained by maintaining perpetual war. The Palestinians may be divided, powerless and totally helpless, but they are right there, in Palestine and they will not go away. Having experienced all sorts of persecution, cruelty, death, destruction, oppression, hardship, deprivation, eradication and suffering, there is not much more to be afraid of. They have learned the art of survival without fear. Israel has the choice of either making peace with them or battle them for ever.

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