Palestine Calling: Opportune time to Resolve Political Conundrum
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 26 May , 2021

The political moves yield better dividends if executed at the right time at right place, mindful of situational sensitivities, to attain well defined diplomatic objectives. The current military standoff between Hamas and Israel has all these ingredients as the situation is unfolding with signs of a well designed plan. Hamas is seen to have orchestrated a military situation in response to action by Israeli troops inside Al Aqsa Mosque against inimical elements taking shelter there during holy month of Ramadan. Iran is known to be supporting Hamas to strengthen their military capabilities and anti Israel animus sans any window for compromise.

The narrative of Iranian Islamic revolution to undo the illegaland forced occupation of Palestinian lands by the Jews continues to be reason and common motive. With change of guard in US, Iran is looking at opportunity to sustain a viable nuclear calculus alongside rejuvenating its economic buoyancy to acquire political leverages of punitive strains to deal with Israel.  Hamas as a frontline ally has been assigned central role in such a transformational political synthesis.

The genesis of the crisis lies in internal political dynamics of thefascist right wing within Israel. The ball started rolling in the aftermath of presidential invite to Yair Lapid of Yash Atid Party to form the government on 05 May to replace Netanyahu who has failed to secure majority despite three elections. Lapid,known to be a secularist, was expected to give space to Arab Islamist Party, Raam, which was not of liking by the hard linerJews. Moreover, the new dispensation was expected to expedite corruption cases against Netanyahu and curtail activities of the right wing polity. This emerging political shift had to be checked through show of Jewish solidarity against moderate leadership by the right wing protagonists.

Apropos, chain of pro Jewish events started unfolding by the Zoinists that acted as a catalyst to evoke fragile ethnic fault linesengulfing rival factions indulging violence. The forced eviction of Arab families from  Sheikh Jarrah in Eastern Jerusalem,restrictions on gathering of Muslims and forced entry into their revered shrine Al Aqsa Mosque on 07 May have been part of show of Jewish nationalism. This in turn presented anopportunity to the Hamas to arouse anti Jew passions amongst the Islamic fraternity as it happens to be an act of sacrilege during holy month of Ramadan.

Further, 14 May being day of formation of Israel happens to be a chilling reminder of atrocities of Jews against Muslims whowere forced out of their habitat of centuries. The timings were perfect by default to provoke Israel into a military confrontation against Palestinians. At the same time it would also showcase Hamas as the custodian of hapless Muslims of Palestine. The objective seems to be  creating ‘centrality of Palestinian cause in current defining times with emerging geopolitical shifts in West Asia.

The US sponsored peace plan is reported to have no role for Hamas being a declared terrorist set up by the US and her allies. The plan envisages charter of security and external affairs being vested with the Israel, thereby making Palestine a mere protectorate. In fact, disarming of the all terrorists groups is apre requisites for moving forward on issue of Palestinianindependence. The PLO leadership is perceived to be non assertive and vulnerable that may   be lured into accepting a compromise on sovereignty. Hamas obviously is feeling left out despite all the blood and sweat in their fight to bring about a fully sovereign Palestinian state.

Another vector in Hamas scheme is to dissuade Islamic nationslining up to get cosy with Israel which is expected to push Palestinian issue to the back seat. Alternately, compel these nations to pressurize US and Israel for an early grant of independence to Palestine with full sovereign rights, this being a condition of the alliance. Herein lies the motive of Hamas to indulge in acts to remain relevant as the lead proponent of Palestinian state and ensure their predominance in times to come. It is best done by showcasing their coercive potential and concomitant nuisance value as the chosen option by the Hamas.

Surely, consequent to current confrontation, Hamas hasemerged as a party which cannot be ignored for anyreconciliatory negotiations on Palestinian issue, which has not been the case so far. Israel in their statements have clarified that their fight is against Hamas and not Palestine which by default has created a space for possibility of taking Hamas on board. It is besides the point that this statement is meant for creating a schism between Palestine authorities and the Hamas. The stage seems to be set to recognize Hamas as a political entity akin to Taliban model which cannot be ignored anymore based on unrealistic political semantics of the western world.

The timings of this confrontation has great relevance for Iran as talks for US rejoining the nuclear deal are in progress at Vienna. Earlier, Iran had started enriching nuclear fuel to higher levels in response to US walking out of the deal in 2018 to demonstrateher defiant rebellious potential. Now with coercive military overtures of Israel against civilians in Gaza, it has given excuse to Iran to talk tough in the new tranche of the nuclear deal. Iran, accordingly,  is expected to strike a hard bargain by insisting on lifting of economic sanctions and dilute restrictive terms for rejoining the JCPOA. From Iranian perspective this tacticallevel confrontation has achieved strategic advantage of geo political import.

Iran hereafter, would be taken more seriously by the regional and global powers as their nuclear calculus would continue to be a viable threat to Israel. The US in the given situation may be amenable to lift the economic sanctions as the entire West Asian fraternity stands together cutting across sectarian divide. Iran accordingly would be a lead Islamic nation with nuclear know how, economic strength and political say in regional affairs in times to come. A win- win situation for Iran. The responses ofother nations are   reflective of their national self interests and strategic fixations in this human tragedy barring few exceptions.

The President of Turkey has wasted no time in extending his support to Hamas and tried to build up world opinion against Israel. Recep Tayip Erdogan has reported to have told his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, that world powers need ‘to give Israel a strong and deterrent lesson.”According to a statement released by the Turkish presidency, Erdogan also proposed that an international protection force to help the Palestinians be considered. Erdogan is looking at leadership role of Islamic world for quite some time. He appears to be nurturing aspirations of reviving Khalifat of Ottoman Empire after a century. It is an opportune time to wrest the initiative from other stake holders, Saudi Arab and Iran.

It obviously is not of liking by the Saudi Arab as it is a challenge to their leadership stature of the Islamic world. Whereas, Saudi Arab is seen to be on back foot with her reported convergence with Israel by the Islamic hardliners. Looking at the turf slipping away, the Saudi Arab was seen to be quite vocal against Israeli conduct inthe UN debate to reposition her back into centre stage. Iran on other hand has gained ground as seen to be in forefront in her anti Israel and US stance which no other leadership aspirant has done. Notwithstanding their individual reactions, the entire Islamic leadership is on the same page on the current issue. Accordingly, it would not be easy for western world to enforce their version of Palestine peace plan and also delay it further.

The OIC has also expressed solidarity with the Hamas in the recently held conclave to discuss Israel-Hamas standoff. The consortium has been vocal in criticism of nations who have chosen to be part of US-Israel bandwagon. Such an opinion of the apex Islamic body would act as a deterrence for  nations to act beyond ambit of religious interests. The Abraham Accord, therefore may not gather pace hereafter, unless western world expedites grant of independence to Palestinian state.

All the nations are united on issue of bringing halt to the human tragedy being perpetuated both by Israel as well as Hamas as reflected in the proceeding in the UN Security Council. The US has been impressing upon Israel to stop their military assaults which seem to have made Israel to agree to cease fire. The initiative for negotiations this time is lead by the Arab nations, Egypt and Qatar, which is a new approach for better acceptability to the Hamas and rest of the Islamic world. While a cease fire is in place since 21 May, the repeat of mayhem on slightest provocation cannot be totally ruled out.

The western world is known to have an inclination towards Israel, and Russia has leanings towards Iran and her allies. Chinese interests are confined to their economic opportunism,besides their intensions are suspect due to low political confidence by Islamic world. Whereas, India with her nonaligned credentials has good relations with both Israel as well as Palestine. Accordingly, India is in a unique position to assist in finding solution to the vexed problem.

The peace in West Asia would continue to be elusive in absence of grant of independence to Palestine as per UN charter and halt to expansionist agenda of IsraelThe Israel-Hamas standoff of such a devastating dimensions hashighlighted the urgency of resolving the long pending Palestinian political conundrum. If not done now, it has potential to spiral out into a larger conflict beyond confines of Israel given the passions and sensitivities involved. The overwhelming international convergence prompts that it is probably the mostopportune time to resolve Palestinian issue. The Palestinians stand silently calling the world community to do their bid .

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen Rameshwar Yadav

Former Director General Infantry, Indian Army.

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2 thoughts on “Palestine Calling: Opportune time to Resolve Political Conundrum

  1. Very insightful article about the current west Asia conflict. The role and impact on all powers implies the importance of this region to the world powers. Even India’s stand may be shifting by reducing opposition to Israel or full backing to the Arabs. Beware of the Ottoman Caliphate revival.
    Must read.

  2. Very insightful article about the current west Asia conflict. The role and impact on all powers implies the importance of this region to the world powers. Even India’s stand may be shifting by reducing opposition to Israel or full backing to the Arabs. Beware of the Ottoman Caliphate revival.

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