Osman Softić || 2 Nov 2023
The most recent iteration of the “armed conflict” between Israel and Palestinians, although it is best described as genocide and carnage of Palestinian civilians of Gaza because of Israelis massacring thousands of women and children who are being blown up to pieces as we write, rather than being symmetrical armed conflict, is an indirect result of decades-long wrong policies designed in Washington by politicians and diplomats who had never showed honesty and willingness, let alone determination, to help facilitate a real and sustainable peace in Palestine. American policymakers tasked with Middle East policies never really believed in the need to allow for the political rights of Palestinians to create their own state as legally envisaged by UN resolutions and international law. American politicians and diplomats who overwhelmingly dominated the so-called “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have always been one-sided, hypocritical, biased and often employed (which is particularly evident today), perfidious manipulation and trickery to serve the interest of the Zionist regime in Israel.
The so-called peace negotiations conducted over many decades are best described by Rashid Khalidi as just that “process” rather than the peace process. American mediation in those negotiations in which Washington had its own envoys who dictated the terms, resembled like throwing dust in the eyes of global public in order to deceive it and allow more time for Israelis to occupy more Palestinian land to construct larger number of illegal Jewish settlements on the occupied West Bank, in contravention with provisions of international law and numerous resolutions passed by the United Nations (UN). Washington did this in order to thwart the Palestinians from establishing their own state and practically make the project of any viable Palestinian state impossible.
In other words, the American strategy in negotiations for peace in the Middle East, which came to a complete dead-end more than a decade ago, even before the departure of former US President Barack Hussein Obama from the political scene, hit the brick wall particularly when Benjamin Netanyahu, leader of the right-wing Likud party came to power in Israel. Furthermore, American Zionist pro-Israel lobby, through American intermediaries over whom it had a strong influence, tried to pacify the Palestinians and weaken their heroic, albeit peaceful and Gandhian resistance to Israeli occupation, aggression, repression and continuous expansionism in order to creation of the so-called “greater Israel” on the territory of the entire historical Palestine and the occupied neighboring parts of Lebanon (Sheba Farm) and Syria (Golan Heights). Washington, with its policy of accommodating Israel’s interests, at first covertly and later overtly, became an accomplice of Israel in the crimes of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians from their land where they lived for centuries. By blocking UN resolutions with the aim of protecting Israel and showing the blind eye before criminal policies of numerous Israeli governments, US governments increasingly became the biggest obstacle to achieving peace in Palestine.
Peaceful protests by Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied Palestinian Territories on the West Bank of the Jordan River were met by Israel’s brutal repression, killing, imprisonment and even harsher policies of expansionism including the desecration of Islamic holy sites and providing protection and support to Jewish extremists. Israel put its military force (IDF) at the service of protecting criminal Jewish settlers in their bloody raids and rampages on the holy places of Muslims, particularly the Al-Aqsa Mosque and other sacred areas in Jerusalem including Christian churches. Native Palestinians were systematically abused and mistreated and were often thrown out of their houses into the street under the cover of night while many innocent Palestinians were arrested and hundreds of them were killed by sniper shots of the Israeli security forces.
When the inhabitants of Gaza Strip, (the area under siege that has been under continuous Israeli bombardment and rocket fire with weapons of mass destruction for more than three weeks), in the past organized peaceful protests (The March of Return) a few years ago, by walking to the fortified border (wired fence) that separated them from the rest of historic Palestine, in order to demonstrate civil disobedience and peaceful (Gandhian) resistance against the Israeli occupation, hundreds of protesters were killed by Israeli snipers and some 30 thousand Palestinians, mostly young people, were maimed regardless of the fact that they were not armed. Peaceful protests and legitimate rebellion of Palestinians against Israeli occupation, repression, life under blockade, siege and segregation, much worse than the one applied by the racist apartheid government in South Africa at the end of the last century, and which Israel has been holding for more than 16 years, not much dissimilar to concentration camp under the open sky, called Gaza, did not receive the support and approval of the powerful political elites in Washington. The crimes and repressive draconian measures of the Israeli regime against unarmed Palestinians were not even condemned at all by the US and its western allies.
Attempts by legitimate Palestinian political representatives elected in free elections in 2006 to seek justice through international institutions such as the International Court of Justice in The Hague (ICC), which operates in accordance with the Statute of Rome, and to realize their fundamental human rights to life, liberty and dignity, have been blocked systematically every time by Washington and its western allies and other European countries. Credible reports from international organizations for human rights, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, as well as by Bet Selem, an Israel’s most credible human rights organization, were arrogantly rejected while the US government continued to provide diplomatic protection to Israel’s criminal behavior. American systematic and perpetual policy of covering up Israeli crimes at all costs and the practice of continuously providing financial and military aid to Israel, so that this occupying power could continue to repress the Palestinians, completely discredited Washington as a credible mediator in this dispute.
Israeli occupation, repression and expansionism, which the UN and the most credible experts of international law labeled as a policy of apartheid, continued as if nothing had happened. Such American policy, which never condemned Israeli crimes and called the authorities in Tel Aviv to account, as should be expected of a member state of the UN, culminated in the election of right-wing and the most extreme ultra-nationalist government in which Netanyahu included some of the most despicable Jewish extremist organizations, including protagonists of the terrorist movement for the restoration of the temple on the Dome of the rock (The infamous Temple mount movement), as well as the leading extremists from among the Jewish settler colonies in the West Bank, such as Itamar Ben-Gvir, Bezalel Smotrich and others, some of whom are self-declared xenophobic fascists. These extremists became ministers of security and finance, and have been put in charge of other important government portfolios. The entry into the government of the most extreme right whose ministers were previously known as extremists and terrorists, some of them (Ben Gvir) are supporters of the Kahanism movement (named after the Jewish extremist Meir Kahane), whose sympathizers participated in the murder of former Prime Minister Rabin, marked the most dangerous period in the history of the Israeli occupation of Palestine since the Palestinian Nakba, the disaster and pogrom of Palestinians that took place in 1948, when 800 thousand Palestinians were expelled from their homes to which they were never allowed to return.
The most notorious Jewish extremists spawned by illegal expansionist criminal project of the settlers in the West Bank under the protection of Israeli military force and American diplomatic protection, last year began to hastily implement the completion of the project of occupation of the entire Palestine, employing the most brutal methods in order to provoke a new, the Third Intifada, a non-violent resistance of Palestinians. Israeli extremist regime was hoping to use the pretext of expected Palestinian uprising to carry out a new Nakba (ethnic cleansing), persecution, pogrom and genocide against Palestinians. The ultimate goal of the Jewish extremists who succeeded in gaining political power is the creation of a greater Israel, which according to them must include Judea and Samaria, today’s occupied West Bank, because that area is the territory of what they term as a historical Israel. Ultimately, their goal is to kill as many Palestinians, Muslims and Christians, as possible, and expel the rest to neighboring countries, demolish the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock, on the foundations of which they intend to build (as they say rebuild) the third Solomon’s Temple.
In this context, and as an integral part of the overall story, and the inter-Jewish political disagreement, the months-long protests in Israel that preceded the latest attack by Hamas and the genocidal retaliation of the Israeli army against Gaza, should also be observed. Namely, the aforementioned protests against Netanyahu’s right-wing government were aimed at preventing the deprivation of the right of the Supreme Court of Israel to overturn and render unconstitutional the decisions of the Knesset. Netanyahu and his coalition partners in government tried to instrumentalize the supreme court and subordinate it to the will of the current extremist government and parliament. It is important to point out that secular Ashkenazi still prevail in Israeli institutions, which right-wing religious extremists consider an obstacle to the realization of their dream of creating “great Israel”.
Jewish extremists believe that the Supreme court of Israel, still dominated by secular Ashkenazi, prefers maintaining the status quo. This amounts to a controlled occupation that can be managed with the help of a pliable Palestinian Authority). The extremists, on the other hand, most of whom come from Mizrahi (Oriental Jews) want the overthrow of the current state structure in order to establish the rule of religious Jewish laws (a model similar to the demands for the introduction and exclusive rule of sharia in some Islamic countries at the expense of secular laws). Little is known about this intra-Jewish dispute outside of Israel because it is little talked about as well as because of the language barrier. So, Jewish secularists in Israel are in favor of maintaining the status quo, including perpetual occupation of Palestine, which is acceptable to them, provided the occupied people do not cross red lines set by the Israeli regime. Hamas’ attack on Israel of 7. October, 2023 was the first serious blow to the Zionist regime since the surprise attack of Egypt, Syria and Jordan in 1973, from the point of view of the Zionist occupation regime. It also meant the crossing of that red line.
Since the signing of the so-called peace agreement in Oslo of 1993, which was preceded by secret negotiations between Israel and representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), after which the Palestinians were granted fictitious self-government or autonomy in the West Bank, the expansion of the construction of illegal Jewish settlements has never stopped. It continued under the protection of the Israeli occupation forces and even intensified to such an extent that today over 60 percent of the Palestinian land upon which the future Palestinian state should be founded from the embryo of the Palestinian Authority led by Mahmoud Abbas, is occupied and fragmented into a large number of disconnected and isolated Bantustans, precisely with the aim of preventing any real possibility of establishing an autonomous, sovereign and economically sustainable and secure Palestinian state.
The Americans knew it all along, and happily participated in this deception. They were fully cognizant that the Palestinian state as promised to the Palestine negotiators in Oslo and later in Cairo and Washington was never on Israeli negotiators minds. There was a tacit agreement between the Americans and Israelis that the Palestinian Authority (PA) can and must never grow into a true autonomy let alone the sovereign Palestinian state. Real sovereignty over that occupied area is intended exclusively as Israel’s right. The Palestinians were given a limited administration, only an appearance and a mirage of government, with some trappings of power in order to create the appearance of a state. This, additionally, provided a chance for the political class of Palestinians servile to the Israeli occupation authorities, to get rich on corruption and control of limited resources, the employment system and the like. The Palestinian Authority, on the other hand, was expected to coordinate security policies with the occupational authorities to facilitate Israel’s occupation and expansion of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with least possible pain in return for cooperation. Outraged by the Israeli-American fraud on the one hand, and the inefficiency, submissiveness to Israel and corruption of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah on the other, in 2006 the Palestinians voted en masse for Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, whose representative Ismail Haniyeh became the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. Mahmoud Abbas, an official of Fatah, a leading secular Palestinian political organization that dominates the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was elected president.
The Americans and Israelis were unwilling to accept the will of the Palestinian people, which elected Hamas to power and with the help of their collaborators in the ranks of the Palestinian Authority and its security forces, they tried to overthrow Hamas’s democratically elected politicians and take over power in Gaza as well. It was a classic example of regime change operation following the recipe of Israel’s and Washington. Hamas thwarted this attempt and refused to submit to the coup by the Americans and Israelis who exploited the weakness and servility of the Palestinian Authority and its security forces, albeit with limited capacity, to remove from power the democratically elected Hamas and install the PLO-dominated government in Gaza. The West Bank was already under control. Using the politics of divide and rule, the Western neo-imperialists in collusion with Israel in 2007 divided the Palestinian people and pushed them into a factional civil war, all in order to satisfy the interests of Israel as an occupying power. Many analysts in the West consider Israel to be an unsinkable US aircraft carrier in West Asia, a garrison state and the neo-imperial instrument of the West, primarily the USA, Great Britain and European powers for projecting force and control over the peoples and states of the Arab-Islamic world in order to dominate and continue the exploitation of energy and other resources of the Muslim world.
It appears that the US Biden administration in Washington, according to some serious US critics, is doing everything it can to turn the Israeli genocide and pogrom of the Palestinians into a wider regional armed conflict. Providing military aid to Israel in tune of 3.8 billion US dollars, compared to only 100 million dollars for Gaza, clearly confirms Washington’s priorities. Russian President Vladimir Putin has already called the latest conflict a catastrophic failure by Washington. On the other hand, the Chinese Foreign Minister stated that Israel’s actions had already gone beyond self-defense. China’s head of diplomacy has made it clear that Israel must stop its collective punishment of the people of Gaza. The failed policy of Washington and the inability of the Americans to prevent Israeli madness minimized Washington’s diplomatic possibilities and options. With their ill-advised moves, the Americans have widened the space for China and Russia to get seriously involved in the region.
Amir-Abdollahian, the Iranian foreign minister after his meetings with the leaders of the Lebanese armed and political group Hezbollah and leaders of Hamas, in Beirut and Doha, warned that if Israel did not stop its barbaric air strikes on Gaza, would experience a real “earthquake”, because the axis of resistance to Israel and American hegemony will in that case initiate an escalation of resistance to Israeli aggression. Washington takes Iran’s warnings seriously, considering Tehran’s role in the proxy conflict with the American occupation forces in Syria, and the fact that Iran may have tacit support of Beijing and Moscow in this regard. Therefore, the question should be asked as to ‘whether the US can even influence, let alone initiate, a new peace process in the Middle East’.
The Abraham Accords, after the Israeli crimes in Gaza, will be difficult and perhaps even impossible to revive. A new model of diplomacy and a new approach as well as new actors will be necessary to establish a ceasefire and a viable peace. The combination of players such as China-Russia-Iran and Arab countries seems like a realistic new model that could be far more successful than American leadership in the processes of the Middle East. “American leadership is what holds the world together,” US President Biden recently said in his address from the White House. The problem with Biden’s statement is that the American leadership has already lost its legitimacy and Washington’s diplomatic power is turning into a mere illusion. The proof of this is the fact that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, otherwise one of Washington’s closest allies in the Middle East, recently canceled a summit with the US and Egypt, immediately after the Israeli bombing of the Anglican Ahli Hospital in Gaza and the US president’s refusal to accept that Israel was the perpetrator of that attack nor did he condemn Israel for doing it.
The US President’s support for the indiscriminate killing of innocent people and children in Palestine is not the way to return America to the track of an influential actor except by relying on force. Biden is unable to achieve this due to domestic political imperatives in the run-up to the elections. American Republicans accuse Biden of being soft on Iran and of ignoring Israel for a long time. The US presidential elections are fast approaching. The Democrats, led by Biden, do not want the latest crisis in the Middle East to be the cause of their defeat. For Americans, it is about political survival. The more they support Israel, the more they open space for the Arab states to approach China and Russia as more credible partners for negotiations on achieving peace and stability.
Washington’s continued attempts in recent years to hand over the management of the Middle East region and to entrust the control of it to the hegemonic Israel and its Abrahamic Arab partners, before the US is ready to withdraw militarily from West Asia, with the latest military action of Hamas against Israel and the genocidal revenge against the civilians of Gaza by Israel that followed, turned this US dream into a colossal strategic defeat for the Americans. The tragedy of Gaza unites the Islamic world that Israel tried to exploit under the guise of the Abrahamic Agreement and to the detriment of the Palestinian people. Arab-Islamic countries, therefore, are turning to China and Russia, seeing them as more credible and less biased global powers when it comes to dealing with the Israel-Palestine dispute.
Osman Softić is a Research Fellow at the Islamic Renaissance Front. He holds a BA degree in Islamic Studies from the Faculty of Islamic Studies of the University of Sarajevo and has a Master degree in International Relations from the University of New South Wales (UNSW). He contributed commentaries on Middle Eastern and Islamic Affairs for the web portal Al Jazeera Balkans, Online Opinion, Engage and Open Democracy. Osman holds dual Bosnian and Australian citizenship.