America’s Middle East diplomacy and Israel’s war on Gaza are two sides of the same coin. Washington’s efforts to shield Israel as it carries out war crimes in Palestine have implicated it in yet another war that threatens to engulf the whole region.
Since the Israeli army embarked on its bloody assault on Gaza a month ago, the Biden administration has dispatched its foremost naval strike force, including two aircraft carriers, to the Middle East in order to put its detractors on notice and its allies at ease. It has also sent its top diplomat to do Israel’s bidding in Arab capitals and to buy time for its military to “finish the job” in Gaza.
In meetings with Arab officials, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has deflected all criticism of Israel’s war conduct, which has been killing hundreds of Palestinians and injuring thousands each day. He has parroted false official Israeli statements and rejected any discussion of a ceasefire, lending unconditional US support to Israel’s all-out war on Palestine.
But as Israel has intensified its bombings of hospitals, schools, mosques and residential buildings, and pushed forward with its land invasion of the densely populated strip, the Biden administration has switched emphasis from talking about the war to talking about future peace.
In his third visit to the region, last week, Blinken failed to contain the fallout from the war on Gaza or defuse the anger and disappointment in Arab capitals. Arab ministers he met with condemned Israel’s war crimes, expressing outrage at the skyrocketing death toll, which has surpassed 10,000 people.
Blinken tried to take the focus away from the war. He tried to convince Arab leaders to stop talking about a ceasefire and start talking about the desired “lasting peace” that follows. But his fanciful promise of peace fell on deaf ears in the Arab capitals, as they refuse to discuss the “day after”, at least in public, before the US agrees to call for an immediate ceasefire.
Blinken enjoyed a better reception at the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) headquarters in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank. PA President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed US overtures, agreeing to take over Gaza in the context of a comprehensive post-war peace settlement.
This is truly mind-boggling, both in terms of its cynicism and gullibility.
The cynicism is derived from the PA’s collusion with the US-backed genocidal war on Gaza, where some 2.3 million Palestinians are struggling to survive a crippling blockade and heavy bombardment by Israel. Although the PA has condemned Israeli war crimes in Gaza and spearheaded Arab diplomatic efforts at the United Nations, it has also cracked down on all forms of Palestinian protest against the war.
Worse still, as Israel has intensified its military incursions into the occupied West Bank, including the city of Ramallah, arresting thousands, the PA leadership has remained quiet. And as violent Jewish settlers have escalated their attacks on Palestinian villagers, Abbas has been eerily indifferent.
Abbas’s gullibility lies in his blind belief that the Biden administration, which is complicit in the genocide in Gaza, is able and willing to deliver just peace for the Palestinians. If only he could keep the West Bank calm a bit longer, as Israel decimates Gaza – he reckons – he soon could rule over Hamas-free Gaza.
What a farce!
The mere idea of the PA getting back into Gaza on the back of Israeli fighter jets and tanks razing it to the ground is so obviously foolish.
Abbas & co must be delusional to think that Israel is spending blood and treasure in order to hand over both the West Bank and Gaza to their incompetent regime. In fact, the Israeli government is making no secret of its plans to maintain overall control of the strip, indefinitely.
If they truly believe that a post-war, victorious Israel will help them establish an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital, I’ve got a bridge in China to sell them.
Why on earth would President Joe Biden spend any political capital, no less in an election year, on establishing an independent Palestinian state? If his administration cannot lean on Israel to accept a two-day or even a two-hour humanitarian pause, whether to save lives or save face, how in hell would it convince the Israeli government and society to accept a two-state solution?
In reality, America will be hard-pressed to find a single Israeli party, let alone a major one, ready to end the illegal settlements and withdraw from the occupied territories in return for peace with the Palestinians. The fascists and fanatics that make up the unity Israeli government and hold the absolute majority of parliament today are thinking of new ways to expel the Palestinians, not to reward them with a state of their own.
The best case scenario, under the current circumstances, would see America pressure Israel to accept a half-state on half of the West Bank administered by the PA, in return for full Arab normalisation and a zillion more dollars in US aid.
On the eve of the US invasion of Iraq some 20 years ago, President George W Bush also proposed a “vision of a two-state solution” and devised, along with the Europeans, an international roadmap to achieve that objective the “day after” the war. And the result? More of the same bloody occupation, illegal settlement and siege, in addition to the forever wars that have wreaked havoc in the region.
In truth, thanks to America’s unconditional support, there is no Israeli peace partner to engage with, today or the “day after”. None. Nada. No Israeli de Gaulle to end the occupation, and no Israeli de Klerk to end its racist system of apartheid.
Only with popular resistance and the direct involvement of the international community as a whole can Israel be forced – as France and South Africa were – to give up its racist colonial project.