Israel-Hamas Conflict Resolution Amid Covid-19
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 31 May , 2021

The recent visit of the US Secretary of State Mr. Anthony Blinken to Cairo to work out peace, reconciliation and rebuilding plans are positive efforts towards conflict resolution. Egypt infact can play a vital role as mediator since it has had amicable relations with both sides. President Abdel Fattah al Sisi of Egypt  has already hinted towards the urge of immediate talk for brokering peace between the conflicting sides with the involvement of the US. Prof.Kalevi Jaakko Holsti, a Canadian Political Scientist and a former President of International Studies Association  developed a Bargaining and Negotiation theory wherein he conceded the role of  mediation by third party in bringing about peace. This is in addition to the process of involving conflicting actors in multiple multilateral agreements and at times through announcements of relief and restructuring process. His analysis appears vindicated. The indication of Blinken’s about the United States intentions of reopening its Jerusalem consulate may provide some relief to Palestinians as in past it remained main thread of tying diplomatic connect with Palestine . Besides, the announcement of over US $70million   package by the US to help uplifting Palestinian economy and another US $5.5 million support for relief in rebuilding process of Gaza might have come as breather in the midst of conflict . Coming days would  be a litmus test for  chances of peaceful negotiation .

Going by the experience of conflicting zones it was found that in order to bring about a lasting solution to the ongoing conflict in tension zone of Gaza Stripa comprehensive policy involving highly tacit communication process through enhancing the level of  trust and sending right signals ought to be substantiated by clearly defined options involving  leaders and people from Israel and Palestine and the media which might prove quite beneficial for maintaining faith. The past few days have already created a massive rift as the multiple rocket attacks by Hamas and rounds of airstrikes from Israel resulting in huge casualties of over 200 lives only during a span of 11days have further proved that there are no winners in a battle where civilians are basically looking forward to a drastically reformed system of negotiation.

The issue of territorial dispute settlement has always remained main bone of contention in the volatile region of West Asia. Many attempts were made in past too to seek permanent solution to the crisis  but the region continued to sit on Powder Keg due to lack of trust. This also brings forth a major question : how to resolve regional conflicts which are so  deeply interwoven in the acrimonious past . The history bears testimony to the fact that unless a proper comprehension of the inner and outer issues related to conflict are understood there would always be chances of going back to repeathistory. Many civilians and  over 123 soldiers have died in the conflict ever since its resurgence after a  brief  period of lull that ended in 2014.

The present crisis has been the outcome of a combination of factors, deeply interwoven in the complicated period of the conflict in West Asia ever since 1948. Although in the past on many occasions the Israeli Government has designed a series of policies aimed at conflict resolution and at times quick results, the Hamas took the extreme step of working against such proposals.

Besides, the strategies and capacity of Israeli intelligence agency Mossed is unmatchable and the main strength of Israel in dealing with any kind of sporadic attacks . However, Hamas could not  bepersuaded to change its plans. In the past, it has attacked Israel a number of times. Hamas enjoys an immense advantage because of three factors: politically, the Palestinians want Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and Gaza Strip; militarily, Hamas has sufficient arms and well-trained members; and, last, at the local level, Hamas has been able to mobilize people ideologically.

The present skirmishes have a deep rooted history of conflict. Any effort to get international support by Hamas particularly from the Islamic countries by giving the struggle a common colour — can turn the region into a battlefield. Hamas has been thoroughly disenchanted by the control of Israel on Gaza and its imposition of blockade since 2007 that led to numerous problems for them. The recent incident of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem further flared up unrest among the members of Islamic Resistance Movement and they showed their wrath and dagger through rocket attacks. Syria has already denounced the Israeli air strikes .The violent attacks, some of which were retaliatory, suggest that the present crisis is deeply interwoven in the issue of separate national identities and the never-ending claim over a common piece of land.

The Palestinians always wanted to have full control of the West Bank and almost 90 per cent withdrawal of the Israeli Army. The formation of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) was a welcome step towards the restoration of peace and reconciliation in the war-torn area but the increasing number of attacks and conflict between the Fatah and Hamas members earlier compelled the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to dissolve the Unity government and allow Hamas to take control of the Gaza Strip .The existence of two separate governments in West Bank and the Gaza Strip has created many complications for the peace process. Soon after, in June 2007, Hamas members tried to dismantle the Fatah authority in Gaza. The US and Israel have declared Hamas a terrorist organization. The problem has been further compounded by the fact that Hamas does not recognize the right of Israel as a State and its claim over territory. It is hard to say whether Israeli forces have the strategy and power to regenerate themselves against this unending warfare .Gradually, both Israel and Palestine may  understand that they could only survive if a two-State solution works out . The Oslo Peace Accord allowed the Palestinians to build an air and sea passage in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with the then Palestinian President Yasser Arafat denouncing terrorism and the recognition of Palestine by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. All this showed a ray of hope but nothing much came of these declarations. Any further effort towards negotiations will have to address issues such as resolving the settlements dispute, maintaining security ,the water issue, the problem of refugees and the status of Jerusalem .Like any other country in the world Israel has full right to protect its sovereignty and integrity and knows it well that the  best way to fight sporadic unwanted attacks and violence is to restore its old strategy of intelligence-gathering and isolating the one responsible from the mainstream by generating more public opinion. The clashes between the security forces of Israel and Hamas validate that deep rooted conflicts and hatred  cannot be crushed merely with the help of force and temporary measures . Unless the causes of grievances are addressed, diplomatic and military actions can provide a temporary relief but violence will increase in the total quantum of its impact. These are changing times and many changes have occurred in International relations recently. Sharing and working on a common strategic vision and a combined approach to ensure mutual economic prosperity and approaching through a multi-layered and multilateral strategy if situation demands is going to dominate the world order in the coming days. What is required is to develop a fresh perspective for a more matured reliance on international cooperation between nations to enunciate a new strategy of combined peace and cessation of violence particularly during the extremely fragile moments for entire human civilization on account of  the rising deadly spikes of Covid 19. In this time of pandemic both sides need to negotiate, cease tensions and rather channelize towards  upgrading ,innovating  and evolving  new methods towards negotiation. Furthermore, going by the acrimonious past incidents which always indicated towards growing apprehensions about the trust deficit between the two sides that had resulted resurgence of violence after a truce or a period of brief lull the main areas of negotiation should address two key issues one is dispute over territorial claims and another one related to right to faith and worship. Some experts have forebodings about the shifty nature of non- state actors which may bring in change of strategy and rather take recourse in a  small number of sporadic attacks in place of the traditional local varieties that they had been using previously. Therefore, constant caution may be a right way dealing with situation in initial rounds of negotiations.

Time is of  essence and therefore it is high time we realized the importance of brass tack realities over ideological and social cleavages. Perhaps this is high time each side took a cue from the emancipation of a renowned Scottish Philosopher  David Hume’s enlightenment’s discourse. As he once conceded “Difference is the essence of humanity. Difference is an accident of Birth and it should therefore never be the source of hatred or conflict .The answer to difference is to respect it. Therein lies a most fundamental principle of peace and respect for diversity”. These are not merely a part of clichés but have an in depth meaning of conflict resolution. The continuous need for peace and a common platform for negotiation has exposed the painful process of conflict and a complete trust deficit resulting in the upsurge of clashes. While people in the region expecting for both sides to accelerate plan formulation towards peace and improving means of production, economic aggrandizement, income, employability , etc. the reality which so far  eluded chances of negotiations is a chimera but must become a reality this time. It all depends on  amajor breakthrough acceptable to all the stakeholders.

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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

Dr Sudhir Hindwan

is Chandigarh based professor of Political Science and an expert on strategic affairs.

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5 thoughts on “Israel-Hamas Conflict Resolution Amid Covid-19

  1. Author is write while holding past incidents responsible for present violent exchanges. But Israel has right to defend .Portrayal of peace chances are very optimistically forwarded.good work indeed.

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