Israel: a risky strategy | International

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Following Operation Al Aqsa Flood carried out by Hamas, Israel has launched a devastating air offensive on the Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, the West Bank, a territory under the control of the Palestinian Authority, remains tightly closed with no mobility allowed between the different cantons where the Palestinian population is confined. To a minimally seasoned observer, the contrast between the relative calm in which the West Bank lives and the desperate situation in Gaza might seem paradoxical, but this paradox is due to a deliberate strategy by the Israeli authorities.

It is well known that one of the strategies implemented by all colonial powers throughout history has been divide and rule (divide and conquer). It does not go unnoticed by anyone that a divided rival is always better than a united rival. Hence, Israel has tried to divide not only the Palestinian population that is distributed between the occupied territories and the surrounding countries, but also its different political formations. Applying the policy of carrot and stick, the Labor governments that signed the Oslo Accords drew a clear dividing line between Fatah, which defended the peace process, and Hamas, which bet all its cards on the armed route.

The failure of the Oslo process took a heavy toll on the Labor Party, which today has a residual weight in the Israeli political scene and paved the way for the Likud (and its Kadima franchise) to take power. Ariel Sharon first and Benjamin Netanyahu later were elected prime ministers precisely to sabotage the negotiations, destroy the Palestinian Authority and prevent, in the near future, a sovereign State from emerging over the territories occupied by Israel. Since then, Netanyahu has attempted to undermine Fatah's authority by ignoring its president, Mahmoud Abbas, whom he does not recognize as an interlocutor, just as Ariel Sharon did in the past with Yasir Arafat.

Punishing the moderates and rewarding the radicals has proven to be a very risky strategy. In this scenario of the worse the better, Hamas is the ideal enemy for Netanyahu, since he continues to defend a maximalist program. The fact that this organization is branded as terrorist by the United States and the European Union allows the Israeli Government to continue betting on punitive measures instead of complying with international resolutions that demand the end of the occupation and the creation of a sovereign and Palestinian State. independent.

But it should not be forgotten that Hamas did not exist when the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip were occupied during the Six-Day War of 1967. Hamas was born in 1988 after the outbreak of an Intifada that opened the world's eyes to the brutality of the occupation and, for several years, benefited from clear favorable treatment by the Israeli authorities, who saw it as a counterweight to the Palestine Liberation Organization. The main reason for his electoral victory in 2006 was precisely the continuous sabotage of the Palestinian Authority by the Israeli governments.

Hamas would hardly have a dominant position on the political scene if colonization had not intensified to unimaginable extremes and if the Palestinian Authority had been able to show some success, no matter how small, in its commitment to the negotiated route. Despite being aware of this situation, the Israeli authorities chose to undermine the credibility of Mahmoud Abbas until he made him practically irrelevant and, today, his figure arouses strong rejection within Palestinian society.

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Khalid Qadumi, one of the spokespersons for Hamas, has tried to justify the barbaric acts perpetrated by his group as a response to “the atrocities committed in Gaza, against the Palestinian people and against our sacred places such as the Al Aqsa Mosque.” The unjustifiable cold-blooded murder of hundreds of civilians hardly benefits the Palestinian cause, but rather serves on a silver platter to the Israeli Government the long-awaited pretext to deepen its colonizing policies and, what is more dangerous: to bury, perhaps definitively, the two-state solution.

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Nathan Rivera
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