Peace is a complex mission to achieve! Placing a cherry on top of a fragile foundation might make the plate look more appetizing, but it doesn’t make it nutritious. This is the result of a Middle East peace process that has prioritized the fantasy of normalization between a few Arab nations and Israel at the expense of a substantive peace between Israel and Palestine. The Abraham Accord, which Western nations hold in high regard, might have increased the popularity of the American president and the Israeli prime minister at the time but did nothing to address the primary crisis.
The debate over whether Hamas is a resistance group or a terrorist organization is completely irrelevant. The meaningful issue is: will the present crisis produce fewer or more Palestinians who are willing to offer their lives for their country – whether or not they’re called martyrs or terrorists? I trust that the number will increase after Hamas’ attack on October 7th, followed by the intense and disproportional assault of the Israeli army on Gaza. Killing innocent civilians is a crime that has no justification, whether committed by Hamas or Israel.
The October 7th escalation is a consequence of believing that the peace process is a dead end and that violence is the only method that could return Palestinian land. Defining the attackers as terrorists is only useful to sustain the war. Pursuing peace needs to address the conflict’s motivation. Getting rid of Hamas will result in either the emergence of new organizations or individuals that will carry out the same mission. Both scenarios are worse than the existence of Hamas, whose present leaders can be negotiated with.
Western countries frequently turn a blind eye to Israel’s practices, which prompts the Israeli government to exercise the least amount of restraint. Israel is a democratic country with the freedom to use brutal force against the Palestinians and to expand its settlements on Palestinian land. Meanwhile, frustrated Palestinian citizens living in miserable condition resort to violence that is perceived by the West as terrorism.
Western nations tend to blame the Palestinians for their lack of democracy and the polarization between Fatah and Hamas for not realizing peace. However, there is no single democratic Arab nation either, so we shouldn’t burden an occupied nation with expectations we don’t hold others to. While neither Hamas or Fatah have provided Palestinians their rights, Hamas has the advantage of being labeled as a resistance organization, and Fattah is known to be a corrupt government.
Israel’s security is based on two axes: technology and agreements with a few Arab nations that negotiated by their rulers and are not reflective of public opinion. Both have proven to be very fragile
Israel’s security could be better and permanently fulfilled by a true peace agreement in which the Palestinian state and citizens will be responsible for ensuring Israel’s security and, in return, Israel will be obliged to offer Palestinian citizens a dignified living condition in their own state.
Top-down negotiations between official representatives from Israel and Palestine have come no closer to a true peace agreement. Instead, a bottom-up approach featuring the participation of Israeli and Palestinian scholars, a large number of whom are living in Western countries, should be persuade to articulate a draft peace plan.
Civilians of both nations and regional influential nations should advocate for and adopt this draft until a final version is realized and can be voted on by the citizens of both nations.
Then, the two governments can negotiate based on this final draft. Meanwhile, let’s marginalize the “usual suspects” of diplomats and politicians who have been involved in mediating between the two nations and failed to bring results, regardless of their honorability or intelligence. They could be replaced by people who have successfully managed to solve another similar conflict, such as in North Ireland and South Africa.
We should abandon the counterproductive negative phrases that are produced by extremists from either side, such as when Israelis call Palestinians animals that should be killed, or when Palestinians say Israelis should be thrown into the sea.
Additionally, the substantial funds that the United States provides Israel for security purposes should be reallocated to support this mission; Israel won’t need it if a functional peace agreement is reached.
What really matters is that Arab and Israeli citizens accept one another, which is not the case presently, regardless of the fantasy of normalization between a number of Arab governments and Israel. Bypassing Arab citizens, who are also dissatisfied with the lack of freedom, poverty, and justice in their countries, will always encourage them to consider violence; peace requires courage and fundamentals that shouldn’t be missed.