Middle East: Next Round of Conflict and its Consequences

The press in the Middle East is gradually beginning to uncover why Israel suddenly raised the level of military escalation against the Palestinians, leading to the mass death of civilians on each side.  The escalation in Palestine begins with the attacks and ethnic cleansing of the Arabs of East Jerusalem in the Sheikh Jarrah area, around Al-Aqsa and the Damascus Gate, conceived and personally carried out by Benjamin Netanyahu to stay in power for some time, the Tehran Times writes. The Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood became the center of fierce fighting as Palestinians rallied around residents to resist Israeli settlers invading and occupying Palestinian territories in East Jerusalem.

This has been a cynical game for some time since Benjamin Netanyahu cannot be held accountable and jailed on a range of corruption charges while in office. Having failed to form a new government following the Constitution, he must transfer these powers to another candidate.  And Bibi is due to stand trial on several serious charges. And in this case, he decided to go all-in, urgently provoking another conflict with the Palestinians in East Jerusalem, who were evicted from their homes with the help of the Israeli police. So naturally, Bibi got what he wanted, the conflict escalated.

But he probably didn’t expect what looked like an all-out Palestinian uprising on both sides of the Green Line, especially in Gaza, where multiple volleys of more effective homemade rockets rained down on all parts of central Israel. The escalation, bombing, and killing of Gazans, Saudi Arab News wrote, all this is an opportunity for Netanyahu to buy more time before he may be forced to change his policy. But this time he miscalculated, because the Palestinians will not rest, and chaos will reign west of the Jordan River almost forever unless the Israeli occupation ends.

In this case, the international community and, above all, the UN must urgently intervene, taking into account the increasing casualties on both sides every day. The Ministry of Health of the State of Palestine announced on May 21 that 230 Palestinians, including 65 children and 38 women, were killed and 1,620 injured since the fighting began. However, the UN Security Council, designed to “extinguish” such conflicts, was blocked by the United States. Washington has firmly stated that it will not support a draft UN Security Council resolution urging the Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire proposed by France. French President Emmanuel Macron and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who were in Paris for the Africa Summits, agreed on the resolution during a video conference with King Abdullah II of Jordan. The Security Council failed to adopt a simple declaration on the conflict. The United States, a staunch ally of Israel, vetoed three previous draft statements proposed by China, Norway, and Tunisia that called for a cessation of hostilities.

As these and other numerous facts show, despite the efforts of several states to “extinguish” this conflict, the United States not only does not take any action but also actively prevents any actions in this direction. In these circumstances, the UN chief, António Guterres, can only appeal for “reaching cessation of hostilities,” stating that the ongoing crossfire between Israeli troops and Palestinian groups was unacceptable. “If There’s Hell on Earth, Its Lives of Children in Gaza,” António Guterres said bitterly.

In the United States itself, positions on the Arab-Israeli conflict, perhaps for the first time since Joe Biden was inaugurated, are divided not along party lines between Republicans and Democrats but within the Democratic Party itself. A significant part of the Democrats has recently drifted away from Israel, the main strategic ally of the United States in the region. Among them, of course, is the well-known defender of democratic socialism, who was almost awarded the nomination from the Democratic Party in the presidential election, Bernie Sanders. He published an article in the New York Times in the Opinion section. He wrote that “Israel remains the only sovereign power in this land, but instead of asserting peace and equality, it establishes inequality and anti-democratic control.”

The fact that the administration and Joe Biden himself are vulnerable is also indicated by the front pages of the leading pro-democratic newspapers in the United States – the Washington Post and the New York Times. Of course, they contain vivid photos of fireworks over Israel when its protective barrier Iron Dome effectively intercepts homemade rockets of Hamas, which fly everywhere. But all reports, without exception, begin with a list of the numbers of civilians who died at the hands of the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip. Only in the second half of the reports is there a summary of Israeli casualties given for balance. And there are photographs of mass demonstrations in major American cities supporting the “righteous struggle of the Palestinian people” and condemnation of “barbaric Israeli actions.”

The latest round of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has revealed several fundamental conclusions that will undoubtedly impact the entire region’s future. Namely, the Palestinian resistance over the past few years has convincingly demonstrated its success in building a missile arsenal capable of penetrating deep inside Israel, causing Israeli casualties and significantly disrupting life in major urban centers, becoming a critical change in the power dynamics between the two sides. This change in power dynamics is happening between Israel and Hamas and between Israel and an alliance that includes Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, and Hamas.  This change means losses and destruction that Israel has not experienced since the mid-1970s. In other words, the entire current generation of Israeli leaders now sees a threat – as well as tensions and fears within Israel-that they have never known in their active lives before, which is undoubtedly affecting the collective psyche of Israelis.

According to Egyptian Al-Ahram, it will have far-reaching implications for Israel’s policy in the future. Some observers focus on the urgent need of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for something that he could present as a victory over Hamas. Otherwise, he will face a harsh sentence, not only on the old charges but also on his failure to protect the Israeli population. More lasting will be the impact on the Israeli Defense Forces, which, after all, is the most important institution in the State of Israel. There are other implications, too, because a crucial aspect of Israel’s narrative of success – from global positioning to international trade, including in the lucrative arms sales industry and the commercial part of the intelligence and security world – is related to the image of the Israeli army and its apparatus. Thus, the consequences of notable success for Hamas will have far-reaching negative consequences for Tel Aviv.

In Palestinian politics, a change is also imminent. Palestinian elections have now been postponed, a decision by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank that has antagonized large parts of the Palestinian community. Hamas was always expected to do well in elections. Its success in this war will give it political momentum not only in Gaza but on the West Bank, becoming a turning point in Palestinian politics, especially after the current Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.  The success of Hamas has severe implications for Middle Eastern geopolitics. Suppose the minor component of the alliance of Iran, Hezbollah, Syria, and Hamas manage to achieve notable success in the war with Israel. In that case, it is possible that the alliance, on the whole, can achieve victory over Israel in the coming confrontation giving them new strength.

The ethnic cleansing of Sheikh Jarrah for “demographic reasons,” the poverty and unemployment of Palestinians as a result of the closure of Jerusalem, the economic, social, and political inequality faced by Palestinian citizens of Israel, the discriminatory behavior of the Israeli police in Jerusalem and Israeli cities, the Tehran Times newspaper indicates. All this clearly shows that Israel is an ethnic-nationalist state that prefers one group, the Jews, at the expense of another, the Palestinians. “This is apartheid,” according to the Iranian newspaper, and Israel must not only accept this reality but also change its Palestinian policy if it wants social peace in its country and the entire Middle East region.

By Viktor Mikhin
Source: New Eastern Outlook

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