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Biden's vision of pacifying Arab world shattered as region descends in turmoil

Oct 25,2023 - Last updated at Oct 25,2023

Surging violence and tensions in this region could have been avoided if the main actors had seriously considered their responses to Hamas' October 7 invasion of southern Israel.

Before the launch, Hamas should have assessed the potential outcomes of the well planned and efficiently executed Aqsa Flood paramilitary operation. Hamas may not have foreseen that its fighters would face as little resistance from the Israeli army as they did or that they could penetrate southern Israel as far and for as long as they did. Hamas should, however, have asserted control over its fighters.

Hamas shock attack prompted the accusation levelled by Israel and its allies that the movement has committed war crimes. This has been used as justification for Israel's devastating and deadly carpet bombing of Gaza. Israel's 17-year-old siege and blockade of Gaza and three major military campaigns against Gaza have been forgotten, depriving Hamas, Gaza and the Palestinian people of the casus belli for waging their first ever war on Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has, of course, blamed everyone but himself for Israel's failure to discover Hamas' intentions and pre-empt the attack. Instead of paying attention to what was happening in Gaza, Netanyahu and his ministers focused on undermining the authority of Israel's supreme court in order to provide him with protection from being sent to jail for corruption and breach of trust.

Netanyahu's preoccupation with his personal affairs may have prompted Hamas to mount its attack at this time. For ten months, Israel has been bitterly divided and, thanks to the religious zealots in Netanyahu's coalition, isolated on the international front. While Israeli commentators predict Netanyahu will have to resign, he is a survivor and will fight for as long as he can to postpone the day of reckoning. This could deepen the divide between Netanyahu and his opponents once the war is over and unity subsides.

The truth is that Israelis have become so convinced of their superiority and invincibility that they did not credit any Palestinians with having the ability to mount such an operation. Israel's three external, internal and military intelligence agencies were fooled by Hamas' deceptions in the run-up to the operation. Israel cannot easily shed anti-Palestinian racism which is embedded in its DNA. 

Netanyahu is so determined to deflect demands for his resignation by wreaking havoc on Gaza that he has already lost the moral ground on which Israel depends for international backing. UN agencies, humanitarian relief groups, academics, students and members of the public in many countries which normally back Israel are calling a for a ceasefire and negotiations which would bring forth a Palestinian state in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza and end 75-years of warfare and hostility.

US President Joe Biden, a self-confessed Zionist, has, like Netanyahu, overestimated international tolerance for Israel's bloody and destructive misadventures in Gaza and the West Bank. By repeating ad nauseum the mantra "Israel has the right to self-defence" Biden has encouraged thinking observers to ask, "Why don't Palestinians have the right to self-defence" against Israeli land expropriation, apartheid, constant harassment, settler and military violence.

Hamas said it was motivated by the cruel fact that from January until October Israelis killed at least 200 Palestinians in the West Bank, which faces nightly Israeli army raids on cities, towns and villages. Since Biden and his administration have ignored Israel's war of attrition on West Bankers, Hamas decided Gaza had to act.

Now the region is in turmoil and Biden's vision of pacifying the Arab world has been exposed as a mirage. Furthermore, he has insulted the Palestinians by proposing $100 million in humanitarian aid for Gaza and the West Bank while asking Congress for $14 billion to boost Israel's military capabilities. This means, naturally, helping Israel to maintain the occupation and colonisation of Palestinian territory conquered in 1967. Like his predecessors, Biden is a prisoner of Zion who will only exacerbate an already explosive situation in this region and alienate its inhabitants.

Breaking with the tradition of unqualified support for Israel, ex-president Barack Obama has warned that Israel’s actions, such as cutting off food and water for civilians, could “erode global support for Israel, play into the hands of Israel’s enemies, and undermine long-term efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region”. Israel's actions could also “harden Palestinian attitudes for generations” to come.

European Union divisions opened after Commission President Ursula von der Layen visited Israel during the opening days of the Gaza war and expressed unstinting support for Israel despite its flagrant violations of international law. She has been castigated by European Union staff members and slammed by European Parliament representatives.

Ireland has been the first to take a stand. Ireland's President Michael D Higgins and Prime Minister Leo Varadkar have criticised von der Leyen’s trip and Varadkar has blasted Israel for cutting off water and electricity to Gaza. Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin has called for an urgent humanitarian ceasefire to permit the flow of goods to Gaza. “The loss of life is enormous, is at a scale that has to be stopped, and in our view the suffering of innocent civilians and particularly children, is on a scale that requires an immediate cessation.” It is about time Western leaders take such a courageous position.

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